Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg man on trial, accused of killing daughter's ex-boyfriend

CLEARWATER — When firefighters found the burned body of 33-year-old Robert Scott Greaves, charred and unrecognizable, his feet were almost out the door.

What stopped him, prosecutors said Wednesday, were 20 fatal blows from a hammer.

Those fatal blows were delivered by 61-year-old Daniel Thomas Papaleo, the stepfather of Greaves' ex-girlfriend, Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub said.

To cover up the crime, he said, Papaleo then set fire to his bungalow in St. Petersburg's Euclid-St. Paul neighborhood.

During opening statements of Papaleo's trial on first-degree murder and arson charges at the courthouse on 49th Street, Schaub described the state's version of what happened May 1, 2013.

Greaves had the day off from his restaurant job and decided to hang out at home, drink beer and play video games.

In the afternoon, Greaves exchanged one text message and three phone calls with Papaleo, who had invited him to his home at 1030 13th St. N to discuss job opportunities. Greaves told a roommate he was excited but apprehensive because he didn't think he and Papaleo "got along all that well," Schaub said.

Papaleo's wife and adult stepdaughter were in Orlando for a business trip. The stepdaughter and Greaves had a child together.

About 6 p.m., Papaleo's neighbor Michael Higbee heard a faint, distressed male voice inside the home crying, "Help me, help me, help me."

He walked to Papaleo's home to investigate but got no reply when he rapped on the front door. He circled around to the back, calling out to his neighbors while peeking through the windows of Papaleo's Florida room. Papaleo's upper body, in a blue shirt, appeared from behind the door separating the Florida room and the kitchen. Higbee said he seemed out of breath, as if he had just run a marathon.

Papaleo reassured his neighbor that everything was okay.

Higbee returned home and minutes later saw flames spitting from the front of Papaleo's home. He grabbed a garden hose to tame the fire and called 911. Then the back of the house erupted in flames. They found Papaleo in the back yard, with a cut on his upper lip and a knee scrape, but no burn injuries.

Papaleo was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for an evaluation. Two days later, he was charged with arson and first-degree murder.

Investigators determined that gasoline had been poured and lit in the front room and the Florida room.

Schaub said the defendant's recollection of the night weaves a wholly different narrative, one that he said seems extracted from a crime novel and contradicts the facts. He noted that Papaleo has been writing crime novels while in jail.

Papaleo told police the night of the fire that Greaves came to the house unannounced and brought a friend, a "dirty, scrubby, pathetically skinny man" named Joe — or maybe Yo. Greaves and the friend got in a dispute over money, Papaleo said, which led to the man beating Greaves with the hammer.

Papaleo said the man threatened him and placed three knives on the kitchen counter and said, "We're gonna play quick-draw, cowboy."

When the neighbor came to help, Papaleo told police during the investigation he couldn't reveal what was happening because the man was holding a knife to his crotch.

Police never found any such knives in the kitchen or evidence of a mystery man.

Adrian Burden, one of Papaleo's defense attorneys, delivered a brief opening statement that challenged the jury to "listen and scrutinize all the evidence," but offered no hint of a defense.

She also told the jury to consider that Papaleo was stressed when he gave his statement to police.

Katie Mettler can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Lightning falls to Golden Knights

Lightning falls to Golden Knights

TAMPA — The door to the Lightning dressing room remained closed a little longer than usual Thursday night, and that wasn’t surprising.After the kind of performance displayed in its 4-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, this had players-only meeti...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 18

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls basketballNortheast 64, Largo 24Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 3, Berkeley Prep 2Palm Harbor U. 7, Tarpon Springs 0Girls soccerCountryside 5, Pinellas Park 0Palm Harbor U. 5, Tarpon Springs 1...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

ST. PETERSBURG — One after another, speakers stepped to the lectern at City Hall on Thursday and described the same image: police cruisers on every corner in Midtown, uniformed officers lined up across the roadway, souring what should have been a joy...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Bay record lows burst pipes, threaten berry and fish farms

Tampa Bay record lows burst pipes, threaten berry and fish farms

In winters past, when they ran the irrigation system at Parkesdale Farms to preserve the berry crop in a protective shell of ice, the icicles measured inches.But on Wednesday night, one of the coldest nights in years, the icicles hung more than a foo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Booty and books on Blackbeard’s ship; critics warn new Trump offic would allow doctors to discriminate; more in U.S. news

Booty and books on Blackbeard’s ship; critics warn new Trump offic would allow doctors to discriminate; more in U.S. news

North CarolinaBooty and books on boardDead men tell no tales, but there’s new evidence that somebody aboard the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship harbored books among the booty. In an unusual find, researchers have discovered shreds of paper bearing legib...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Man free on bail during DUI manslaughter appeal arrested for drinking alcohol

Man free on bail during DUI manslaughter appeal arrested for drinking alcohol

A Tampa man convicted of DUI manslaughter for drunkenly running down a tourist and released on bail while his case winds through the appeals process was arrested Tuesday.Brock Troutman, 34, violated the conditions of his release from jail by consumin...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Family recalls troubled youth for teen killer, now 39, who seeks new sentence

Family recalls troubled youth for teen killer, now 39, who seeks new sentence

TAMPA — The bearded man with shackled hands sat weeping as he listened to witness after witness — his mother, aunt and sister among them — recount his childhood of poverty, abuse, and depression.Kyle Moran leaned forward occasionally, stretching to w...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tropical Breeze patron rides shuttle to check on crew

Tropical Breeze patron rides shuttle to check on crew

PORT RICHEY — Loretta Santini was one of a small group of customers boarding a Tropical Breeze Casino shuttle Thursday afternoon as the company sailed for the first day since another of its shuttle boats burned to the water Sunday, killing one woman....
Updated: 8 hours ago