Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Pam Bondi and Mark Ober, one case never ends

Pam Bondi left the Hillsborough County prosecutor's office to become attorney general, but she and her former boss have some unfinished business that both say is a matter of life and death — for them.

Bondi and Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober are lobbying against the release of a Florida inmate that Ober helped lock away more than three decades ago.

Both officials say they fear he would come after them if he gets out.

That's ridiculous, says the inmate's lawyer, who accuses Ober of carrying a 30-year "personal vendetta" against Charles Norman.

What's undeniably true is Norman has antagonized two people whose words have great weight at a parole hearing.

A former Tampa police officer, Norman was convicted of first-degree murder in 1980 in the shooting death of a young security guard during the 1975 robbery of a Pantry Pride grocery on Gandy Boulevard. He was sentenced to life with a 25-year minimum, and because he was sentenced before 1983, he's eligible for parole.

When Norman's latest petition for release came before the Florida Parole Commission a few weeks ago, Bondi and Ober argued forcefully against it. The panel promptly reset Norman's next parole hearing for 2017.

Soon after, the Department of Corrections transferred Norman, 62, from the faith-based prison in Wakulla County to Okaloosa C.I. in the western Panhandle.

"I request that this political dirty trick be rescinded," Norman's lawyer, William Sheppard, told prison officials.

"The department has exercised its statutory authority," a state lawyer wrote back.

Behind bars, Norman became an award-winning writer, skilled sculptor and active participant in prison ministries.

Allies continue to fight for his release on freecharlienow.com, claiming he was convicted by tainted testimony, and some powerful people have taken up his cause, including a former state senator and a nun at Jesuit High.

The syndicated columnist James Kilpatrick went to his grave convinced that Norman was framed, calling his trial a "travesty."

Bondi, who has previously joined Ober in opposing parole for Norman, has another view.

"He's the most chilling and manipulative inmate I've ever dealt with," she testified at Norman's March 21 hearing. "I am convinced if he is released, he will attempt to murder me."

Ober said a onetime cell mate of Norman's, habitual offender Gregg Quilling, told state law enforcement agents that Norman "hates Ober with a passion" and would "take Ober out" if he were free.

But Norman's attorney produced an affidavit signed by Quilling in November in which he said: "These allegations that Charlie made such comments to me about harming persons, especially a prosecutor, are totally false."

Ober noted that Quilling's allegations are on videotape and under oath, and he has monitored phone calls between Norman and a girlfriend, where the names Bondi and Ober came up often.

"He has a never-ending hatred and vendetta against both of us," said Ober, who prosecuted Norman. "He is consumed by both of us."

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

For Pam Bondi and Mark Ober, one case never ends 05/08/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. Today, a total eclipse of the sun will span the entire United States, crossing from the West Coast to the East Coast, for the first time in 99 years. (Dreamstime/TNS)
  3. What is poke? Here's how to make the Hawaiian dish at home

    Cooking

    In Hawaiian, "poke" simply means "to cut."

    Tuna Poke Bowl: For a classic poke bowl, try this recipe with ahi (yellowfin) and only a few other ingredients.
  4. MOSI, SPC, libraries offer safe solar eclipse viewing Monday

    Events

    If you couldn't score some of the hard-to-find eyewear that will let you watch Monday's solar eclipse, have no fear, there are safe viewing choices across the Tampa Bay area.

    Twin Falls High School science teachers Ashley Moretti, left, and Candace Wright, right, use their eclipse shades to look at the sun as they pose for a portrait at Twin Falls High School in Twin Falls, Idaho. The district bought 11,000 pairs of solar glasses, enough for every student and staff member to view the solar eclipse Aug. 21

(Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)
  5. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone

    Macdill

    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?