Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough State Office rebuffs DNA testing request in executed man's case

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office isn't willing to help facilitate further DNA testing of evidence in the case of a man already put to death.

The Innocence Project of Florida — citing doubts about the guilt of Wayne Tompkins, who was executed in February after 23 years on death row — had offered to pay for more testing at a private lab.

But in an eight-page letter dated April 9, Assistant State Attorney Jalal Harb said the requested testing "amounts to (an) unauthorized and speculative fishing expedition."

Harb wrote that there was no credible evidence that 15-year-old Lisa DeCarr was seen alive after she was reported missing, or that the remains found under her home belonged to anyone else, both claims made by Tompkins' defense on appeal.

Calling the response "incredibly disappointing," Innocence Project of Florida executive director Seth Miller said the organization will consider other legal avenues to get the testing done.

"We just want an answer," Miller said. "Unfortunately, the state is just not that interested in an answer. They're interested in their gut feelings."

• • •

The State Attorney's Office, previously tapped to handle the prosecution of eight employees at a Panama City boot camp, has picked up another high-profile case. At least this one won't require as long a commute.

Gov. Charlie Crist has asked Hillsborough prosecutors to decide whether criminal charges should be filed against the former Sarasota County sheriff and one of his top civilian employees.

Sarasota sheriff's officials recommended that former Sheriff Bill Balkwill and Jeff Feathers, his former information technology director, be charged with grand theft for their handling of a laptop that is considered key evidence in a lawsuit over a $9 million jail contract.

Balkwill left office in January and took his agency laptop with him. A forensic expert says 11,000 files were deleted on the same day Balkwill was asked to give the computer back, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

• • •

Times are a changing at Barry Cohen's law firm.

First, the name. It's now called Cohen, Foster & Romine. Former partner Christopher P. Jayson left the firm late last year. Stephen Romine, who recently convinced a judge to change a young man's sentence from 30 years in prison to 28 months of probation, has become a partner.

On Friday, the firm's longtime chief investigator, Kevin Kalwary, also announced his departure.

Kalwary, a former investigative TV and newspaper reporter, plans to start an "all-purpose" marketing, public relations and investigative firm that will do work for law firms, corporations and government offices.

His partners will be Dan Grossi of the NFL security division and R.J. Reynolds, a veteran homicide investigator. Both previously worked for the Tampa Police Department. The new, as yet unnamed, company will still do work for his employer of 13 years, Kalwary said.

Got a tip? For cops and courts news, contact Colleen Jenkins at or (813) 226-3337.

Hillsborough State Office rebuffs DNA testing request in executed man's case 04/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Forecast: Lots of sunshine, low humidity to start Memorial Day weekend


    The start of your long Memorial Day weekend is all sunshine this Saturday, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Rick Kearbey.

    WTSP seven-day forecast on May 27, 2017.
  2. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    The Rays are looking to keep rolling when they make a quick turnaround after Friday's win over the Twins and are back on the field for a matinee today, 2:10 first pitch Tampa Bay time.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, coming off a good but not great start against the Angels, though buoyed …

  3. Global computer outage grounds British flights


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports Saturday as a global IT failure caused severe disruption for travelers on a busy holiday weekend.

    British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in January. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
  4. Road rage incident leaves uninvolved man, 52, with critical injuries in Pinellas Park


    PINELLAS PARK — A 52-year-old man was critically injured after an apparent road rage incident that shut down the area of a U.S. 19 overpass for nearly six hours on Friday, police said.

    Pinellas Park police say a man has critical injuries after a truck involved in a road rage incident slammed into him after he cut off another vehicle. (Pinellas Park Police Department)
  5. Britain lowers terror threat level to 'severe' as more arrested


    MANCHESTER, England — Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from "critical" to "severe," as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. More arrests are expected.

    An army bomb disposal team works with members of the police in the Moss Side area of Manchester, England, on Saturday. British police say they are evacuating residents around a house being searched in connection with the Manchester concert bombing. Police are searching a number of properties and have 11 suspects in custody in connection with Monday's explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, which killed more than 20 people and injured dozens. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)