Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family, community lay to rest 4-year-old stabbing victim

ST. PETERSBURG — A red carpet led mourners to the tiny white casket, not much longer than an outstretched arm. Joseph Artis IV was nicknamed "Turtle," and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fabric lined his coffin.

"To be disturbed today, that is something that's normal," Brother Eric Graham said from behind a lectern.

A couple hundred people sat in folding chairs and on bleachers inside the Wildwood Recreation Center basketball gymnasium Saturday afternoon.

The 4-year-old's grandmother, father, two sisters and uncle sat nearest the casket.

Next, a woman walked to the lectern and spoke a poem about Joseph's headstone. Born May 23, 2009 — died March 28, 2014, she said it would read.

As the community mourned the untimely loss of such a young child, the boy's mother was locked up in Pinellas County Jail, charged with first-degree murder and the death of her son.

Joseph's grandmother had custody of the boy because his mother, Tasha Trotter, 40, had spent much of the last decade in a mental health facility. Just two months before the boy's fifth birthday, Trotter visited him at his grandmother's 13th Avenue S home. Although Trotter was prone to eccentric behavior, she seemed to be in a normal mood that day. But as she sat on the porch, family said she rushed inside and grabbed a knife, stabbed Joseph multiple times and then held the bloodied boy on the front lawn until police arrived.

At the funeral Saturday, the woman at the lectern said "What matters most is the dash between those two years," referring to the years of Joseph's birth and death. That small dash, said Maggie Miles, an employee of Dallas & Davis Funeral Services, represents the short four years of memories that will last forever.

Then the pallbearers, each wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pocket squares, lifted the tiny casket. It was barely long enough to fit the four men, and their shoulders rubbed beneath it. A shaking father, a solemn grandmother, the two sisters and uncle followed. And behind them, the rest of the community.

Weston Phippen can be reached at or (727) 893-8321.

Family, community lay to rest 4-year-old stabbing victim 04/05/14 [Last modified: Saturday, April 5, 2014 10:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  2. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  3. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  4. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  5. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor


    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to