Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Verdict is guilty in Pasco teenager's 2002 murder

NEW PORT RICHEY — He didn't even know her name.

Phillup Alan Partin was the last one seen with the teenage girl before her half-naked body was found in Shady Hills in 2002.

The fake name he gave to detectives over his cell phone hadn't thrown them off. So he fled the state. But he kept calling detectives, feeding them bits of information, hoping to get them off his trail.

"What time did you meet Joshan that morning?" a detective asked in one recorded call.

"Who?" Partin replied.

Her name is Joshan Ashbrook. She was beaten and strangled, her throat cut, her head ripped from her spine, her body dumped alongside Shady Hills Road.

She was found on Aug. 1, 2002, and almost six years later, a jury decided that it was Partin who left her like that.

The jury of eight men and four women took little more than three hours Tuesday to find Partin guilty of first-degree murder.

Their job isn't done yet. They will re-convene at 9 a.m. today to begin the penalty phase, to decide whether a sentence of life or death is appropriate for Partin's crime.

• • •

Partin accepted the verdict the same way he had handled everything else in his trial: indifferently.

He stood for the verdict, then leaned back into his chair, his bearded chin resting on his right hand. It's the same position he's kept throughout the trial.

Partin, 42, declined to testify on his own behalf. The only hint of emotion he displayed was when he glared at Deputy, Scott Gattuso, who testified against him. Before the trial, from his jail cell, Partin penned a mocking letter to Pasco Sheriff Bob White about Gattuso's long disciplinary record.

The victim's mother, Tara Lynn Ramsdell, clutched her husband Robert's arm and shook as the verdict was read. She sued and later settled with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office for failing to obey a court order to pick up her runaway daughter.

Instead, authorities say, Partin found the 16-year-old girl first.

The mother declined to comment after the verdict. She wanted to save it for today, when she will get to address the man who killed her daughter.

The state's strongest evidence was given to them by Joshan herself. They are the hairs that authorities say she tore from Partin with her left hand during their struggle, when he attacked her from behind, pinned her right hand with his left and cut her throat with his right.

The hairs contained Partin's DNA.

•••

But the verdict does not answer all the questions left in the wake of Joshan's death. Chief among them: Why?

After Partin's capture 13 months later, detectives tried to find out in taped interviews.

Partin admitted that he had picked up many hitchhikers the same way he picked up Joshan, by just making eye-contact alongside the road. They went to Wal-Mart with his 7-year-old daughter, then fishing, then went back to his place.

Had she rejected his sexual advances? Was Partin enraged to discover she was just a teenager? What set Partin off the night of July 31, 2002 — the last time Joshan was seen alive?

Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis told jurors Monday that whatever Partin intended to do that night, it was premeditated. Why else would he take Joshan out with him that night, but leave Patrisha, his young daughter, behind at home?

"Why don't you take Patrisha with you?" the prosecutor asked jurors. "Because you don't want your young girl to see what's going to happen."

Jamal Thalji covers courts in west Pasco County. He can be reached at (727) 869-6236 or thalji@sptimes.com.

Verdict is guilty in Pasco teenager's 2002 murder 03/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 9:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cubs bring some other ex-Rays to Trop such as Wade Davis, Ben Zobrist

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon's first trip back to the Trop is getting most of the headlines tonight, but there are several other familiar faces among the eight former Rays now wearing Cubs uniforms.

  2. Bicyclist in critical condition after colliding with vehicle in St. Petersburg

    Accidents

    ST. PETERSBURG — A bicyclist is in critical condition after he ran a red light and was struck by a car on Monday night, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

  3. Myanmar leader sidesteps atrocity allegations in first address on Rohingya crisis (w/video)

    World

    YANGON, Myanmar - In her first major speech Tuesday on the worsening Rohingya crisis, Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, sidestepped allegations of atrocities committed against the stateless Muslim minority and cast the conflict as just one of many problems ailing the country.

    A Rohingya Muslim, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, carries his belongings as he arrives at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. With a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims sparking accusations of ethnic cleansing from the United Nations and others, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said her country does not fear international scrutiny and invited diplomats to see some areas for themselves. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: Free lunch, school routines, spending cuts and more

    Blogs

    FREE LUNCH: Hurricane Irma caused many families to go without income for a week. Many also lost power, and along with it the food in their refrigerators and freezers. Making matters worse, replacing it isn't so easy, as grocery stores have limited supplies. Hoping to ease the burden, the state has asked for …

  5. Forecast: Sunny, dry conditions prevail throughout Tampa Bay

    Weather

    While many are closely monitoring Hurricane Maria out in the Caribbean, Tampa Bay residents can expect mostly pleasant, dry weather throughout much of the week.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]