Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Witnesses describe final moments of Hudson man's life

NEW PORT RICHEY — Theodore Peck's last moments were fraught with violence and fear.

Assistant state attorney Chris Sprowls painted the scene as he gave opening statements Tuesday to a jury in the murder trial of Andre Jackson.

" 'Where's my money? Where's my drugs? Give me my money or I'm going to f------ kill you,' " Sprowls said. "Those are not my words."

He did not censor the expletive in the courtroom.

Jackson, 35, is charged with second-degree murder in Peck's death. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office said Peck, 53, died from blunt force trauma on May 24, 2011. The altercation was over an apparent drug money dispute.

It appears the only weapon Jackson used, authorities said, was his fists. If convicted, Jackson could face life in prison.

Sprowls talked about that day and those harsh words through the testimony of Adriane Lewka, who said she heard and saw the fight outside Peck's Hudson home. Lewka was a friend of Peck's roommates, Steve and Laura Olson. Steve Olson also said he witnessed the beating. He has since died, however, so his statements to authorities can't be used in court, though jurors heard his 911 call.

Sprowls emphasized the importance of Lewka's testimony.

"She'll tell you that she saw this defendant yelling at Mr. Peck," he said as he pointed at Jackson. "She sees this defendant start to swing. She can hear the blows. The sound. The connecting. Over and over again."

In his opening statement, defense attorney Hans Grieble argued that Peck was in poor health. Peck had cirrhosis of the liver and a bad heart and sometimes his legs would swell up so badly he could barely walk.

"The state already told you Theodore Peck is dead," he said. "The question is, was that death caused by a criminal act?"

The medical examiner found Peck had cracked ribs. Grieble said that could have been caused by the attempts to revive him.

Grieble also said he planned to call an expert witness to talk about the drugs in Peck's system, and how they could have played a role in his death.

In his 911 call, Steve Olson described Peck's condition: "His face is all black and blue, his nose is bleeding … His face is all swelled up."

Laura Olson testified she didn't remember much from that day. She said her husband came and told her in hushed tones that "Remy" was beating up Peck. She said she didn't really know what Remy looked like.

Then the state called its key witness: Lewka. She said Peck was her "supplier."

The night before the beating, she said she went to Peck to get some drugs and then went to a camper in the yard to sleep.

She recalled how she heard Jackson yelling for his money, hitting Peck numerous times and throwing him against the window in the room.

She said Peck pleaded with Jackson.

"We'll take care of it," she recalled Peck saying. "We'll fix it."

The trial will continue today with the cross examination of Lewka.

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