Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cops call it battery, Port Richey man says it's self-defense

PORT RICHEY — A few hours after he bailed himself out of jail, Jeffrey Crouch stood in his front yard Thursday afternoon to tell his side of the story. Again.

This time — on his 15th arrest — he was in on a felony battery charge. But Crouch has been telling his side of the story for more than 20 years. No one listens, he said. He's been called notorious. Infamous. A Houdini who was a suspect in two murders but was never convicted. A judge tossed his alleged confession in his wife's 1987 murder, and he was never charged in the 1998 death of his 20-month-old son, who died from a skull-breaking blow.

His other arrests have been charges of shoplifting, driving a boat while drunk and battery — most against his girlfriend of 11 years, Melissa Ann Uhr. She blamed herself in two trials and didn't show up for the third.

Crouch, 54, has never served time in prison. Jail, though, he's familiar with.

"I'm getting kind of used to it," Crouch said.

This latest incident happened Sunday night. The Port Richey Police Department says Crouch beat up a homeless man who came to his house at 5701 Regis Ave. to deliver a Christmas card and to retrieve some belongings. Officers say Crouch pummeled and kicked the man in the face, breaking his nose, injuring his back and sending him to the hospital.

Crouch was arrested Wednesday night. He is charged with felony battery and was released Thursday on $5,000 bail.

He says the cops have it all wrong.

"It wasn't just a homeless person delivering a Christmas card," Crouch said, shaking his head.

He said the victim is a transient named Pauly who lives in a tent in the woods but hangs out at Crouch's house all the time. Crouch said he had a bunch of people over to watch a football game Sunday night and, after it was over, he asked them to leave.

"Time to break up the party," he said.

But then a big guy named Mike wouldn't get up out of Crouch's recliner. Crouch told them all again to leave. Party's over.

"But that big guy would not get out of my recliner," he said.

Then Pauly stepped in, Crouch said. Pauly is a little guy, he said, who normally only drinks beer. But this night, he drank a half gallon of vodka.

"I knew something bad was going to happen," said Mark Benjamin, Crouch's friend who was at the party. He sticks to beer himself. "If I even smell vodka, I'm going to jail."

So, Crouch said he was trying to get Big Mike and Little Pauly out of his house and off his property. The big guy left, he said. But Pauly stayed. He said Pauly stumbled backward and hit his head on a concrete block.

"Come inside, sit down and let me get you a cold beer," Crouch said he told him, after Pauly's tumble.

"But he kept challenging me," Crouch said.

So he beat him up — in self-defense, he says.

"I did," he said. "I'm not going to deny it.

"I felt threatened and I ended that threat."

Then, he said, he called 911.

Crouch said he and Benjamin went to the hospital Wednesday to pick up Pauly, who didn't remember what happened. But, because of the extent of Pauly's injuries, Crouch was arrested late Wednesday night. Benjamin said Pauly had three staples in his head and a scratch on his nose, and that he stayed the night at Crouch's house Wednesday and was there drinking beer Thursday morning while Crouch was in jail.

"He doesn't want to press charges," Benjamin said.

Crouch said he'll never shake the suspicion people have of him. Sure, he has some anger issues, he said.

"I'm not the big bad guy," he said.

Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Cops call it battery, Port Richey man says it's self-defense 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 9:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Some teachers allege 'hostile and racially charged' workplace at Pinellas Park Middle

    K12

    PINELLAS PARK — Two black teachers at Pinellas Park Middle have requested transfers out of the school, alleging the work environment there has become "hostile and racially charged."

    Pinellas Park Middle School at 6940 70th Ave N, where some black teachers have alleged they were treated with hostility by colleagues after starting a tutoring program for black students. Just 22 percent of black students were proficient in English language arts in last spring's state tests. Two black teachers have asked to be transfered, according to a letter from two local chapters of the NAACP. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  2. Editorial: The unknown price tags in the mayor's race

    Editorials

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has been busy promoting all sorts initiatives in the months leading up to the Nov. 7 election, doubling down on his progressive agenda without spending much money or generating much controversy. But make no mistake, the cost will come due after the election. Without a change in …

    The mayor is determined to get artist Janet Echelman to create a sculpture for the new Pier. But the cost would be much higher than what is allocated. Above is Echelman’s As If It Were Already Here in Boston.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. Judge won't cut prison term of man who pleads obesity

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A claim of obesity won't shave time off a Tampa man's prison sentence.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.
  5. Advocates for charter, public schools argue their cases at education forum

    K12

    TAMPA — Advocates of charter schools argued for diversity in education while supporters of traditional public schools charged that state funding is stacked against them during a forum Friday titled "Choices in Education."

    Schools such as Winthrop Charter School deserve greater public support, their operators say, because they offer a choice in education that is popular among parents. Public school advocates say charter and voucher schools represent a double standard in accountability and enrollment. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]