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Authorities say woman killed intruder at Tierra Verde home

TIERRA VERDE — An intruder who barged into a Tierra Verde home early Saturday was shot dead by one of the home's occupants, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities gave this account: A man knocked at the front door of 863 Third Ave. S about 3 a.m. A woman answered, and the intruder forced his way inside. He attacked the victim and tried to carry her upstairs. The home's male occupant heard her screams and came downstairs to see what was happening.

The intruder demanded money from the man. Then, as the man began to struggle with the intruder, the woman was able to get away and retrieve a gun from the bedroom.

She shot the intruder, who tried to get away but collapsed at the front door.

Authorities identified him Saturday evening as Albert F. Hill, 42, of Madeira Beach. He was pronounced dead at the scene. State records show Hill had been in and out of prison since 1986 for burglary, grand theft, selling cocaine and other crimes.

Authorities have not identified the home's occupants, but Patrick Planthaber said it was his brother, Robert, and his wife. Property records confirm the 2,732-square-foot home is owned by Robert Planthaber.

"The guy was on top of my brother. They were fighting and the guy was kind of winning and she shot him," Patrick Planthaber, 40, of Tampa, said Saturday night.

He said he hadn't talked to his brother yet, but heard the account from their parents. He said his brother did not know the intruder.

"We're still trying to piece this all together," sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said, adding that the incident does not appear to be random. "There shouldn't be any concern from residents."

Investigators think there may have been others involved in the home invasion.

Since 2005, Florida's "stand your ground" law has given people the right to use deadly force anywhere, as long as they "reasonably believe" the force is necessary to stop the other person from hurting them.

Saturday's incident is the second shooting death in recent years in Tierra Verde, a bedroom community on the southern tip of Pinellas County. In May 2009, William Brown Wood Jr. killed himself and his ex-wife, Donna Aline Havard Wood. Donna Wood, 54, was found shot in her Snell Isle home the same day authorities discovered her ex-husband's body floating in a Tierra Verde canal. He died of a gunshot wound.

Neighbor Garrett Ziegler, 30, recently moved to the neighborhood. He said he woke up about 5:30 a.m. Saturday to care for his infant twin daughters when he saw police cars at the house two doors down. He figured there was a break-in, but was taken aback when deputies said they were investigating a homicide.

"It's very unusual in this neighborhood. When I moved in two weeks ago, it's something you would definitely never think about," Ziegler said. "I'm not concerned. I'm a little surprised. I'm a believer that anything can happen at any time. … It's shocking."

Neighbors weren't surprised, however, about the location of the crime. Everyone talks about the house with the suggestive pirate mailbox and the large bird in the back yard. The owner was known to throw big parties and have eccentric taste.

Between 2004 and 2009, a company known as Private Limos listed its address as the Tierra Verde home, which is valued at $427,000, state records show. Planthaber and another man were listed as the owners.

"There have been quite a bit of problems and complaints through the years," said longtime resident Mary Anna Matthews, 65, a retired kindergarten teacher.

Still, Matthews said she didn't notice anything unusual when she walked her dogs around the neighborhood about 10:30 p.m. Friday.

"The house was quiet when I walked by," she said. "To wake up in the morning and look out and see crime scene tape and all of this going on in this neighborhood is just unbelievable."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

Authorities say woman killed intruder at Tierra Verde home 03/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 11:18pm]
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