Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Public safety

Hillsborough murder suspect's father saw trouble coming for daughter

RECOMMENDED READING


PINELLAS PARK — On Thanksgiving, just a few hours before she was charged with murder, Erika T. Sanez ate turkey and stuffing with her father, sister and 1-year-old son.

In recent weeks, she had told her family that a man named Travis Weller had been asking her for a date. Sanez, 20, said she met him at a nightclub in Tampa. He flashed lots of money. He drove a BMW.

Late Thursday, the family says, all of them — including Sanez — went to bed in their small Pinellas Park apartment. But Sanez didn't stay.

She headed for Hillsborough County to meet Weller, according to investigators. She took him to a vacant home near W Linebaugh Avenue and the Veterans Expressway. At the house on Plum Grove Court, deputies say, three men waited to rob Weller.

But their plan went awry. Weller, 22, of North Tampa, pulled a gun and shot one of them, Marlin Walker, in the chest. Sanez took Walker, a 20-year-old Tampa resident, to nearby Town & Country Hospital around 4:40 a.m. Friday, where he died.

Sanez admitted her role in setting up the robbery, according to Hillsborough sheriff's investigators. She has since been charged with second-degree murder. On Saturday, detectives were still working to identify the other suspects.

Sanez's family was distraught Saturday morning. In some ways, though, they didn't seem surprised. About a month ago, she began hanging out with some men her father, Del, didn't approve of.

"I told her she didn't need to be going to Tampa," Del Sanez, 47, said Saturday. "There's nothing but trouble in Tampa."

"I know," she responded. "I know."

Erika Sanez, the family said, didn't have issues with drugs but often drank. She was a good mother, they said, and eventually wanted to work as a certified nursing assistant.

When asked why she might have taken part in a robbery, her father said: "Just probably money."

Once an accomplished cheerleader, she fell into trouble during her teenage years.

Del Sanez said he moved his family to Pinellas Park to keep her away from bad influences across the bridge. When she was 14 or 15, he sent her to live with his parents in a remote part of North Carolina. For several months, he said, she also lived in a local girl's home.

In 2010, as a juvenile, she pleaded guilty to burglary.

She's now being held on $250,000 bail and could face up to life in prison if convicted.

"She's not a killer," Del Sanez said. "She made a choice and now she has to live with it."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Report: Pepin Academies director had alcohol in his system at time of fatal boating accident

Report: Pepin Academies director had alcohol in his system at time of fatal boating accident

CLEARWATER — The former Pepin Academies executive director who died in a watercraft and boat collision on Sept. 23 had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the level at which the state presumes someone is impaired, a toxicology report showed. Just befo...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Pasco Deputies: Man climbs into bed with sleeping woman after multiple burglaries

Pasco Deputies: Man climbs into bed with sleeping woman after multiple burglaries

NEW PORT RICHEY — A man who ended a series of burglaries by breaking into the home of a sleeping woman, where he climbed into her bed, was arrested Monday afternoon, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.Russel Smith, 42, now faces three felony char...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

28-year-old man shot dead in Spring Hill home, deputies say

SPRING HILL — A 28-year-old man was shot and killed inside a Spring Hill home Monday night, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies responded to at least two separate 911 calls about 8:15 p.m., in which callers reported shots being...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Crash involving bicyclist closes EB lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa

TAMPA — Eastbound lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard were reopened by 6:30 a.m. at S Parker Street in downtown Tampa after a bicyclist was struck early Tuesday morning.The crash occurred in front of the University of Tampa, according to broadcast reports.W...
Updated: 10 hours ago
In wake of killings, Seminole Heights hosts supper to thank first responders

In wake of killings, Seminole Heights hosts supper to thank first responders

TAMPAKenny Hoffa surprised everyone when he made the seven-hour drive from Charleston, S.C., to Tampa’s Seminole Heights to attend a dinner set up to thank police for working hard to solve a string of recent killings.For Hoffa, it was an easy decisio...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Another teen fights for his life following reported stolen car crash

Another teen fights for his life following reported stolen car crash

ST. PETERSBURG — Another teenager is fighting for his life after a crash involving a car that was later reported stolen, according to police.The 15-year-old was a passenger in a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro that hit a tree in the 4000 block of 11th Avenue S...
Updated: 8 hours ago
NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

Before he crashed, Roy Halladay flew within 75 feet of houses and skimmed the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report published Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.The report, which did not address the cause of the crash, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Blasts at plant kill 1, injure dozens

Blasts at plant kill 1, injure dozens

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. — Authorities recovered the body of a male worker reported missing after two explosions and a fire at a New York cosmetics factory left 30 to 35 people injured, including seven firefighters caught in the second blast, officials said...
Published: 11/20/17
Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak

Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak

APOLLO BEACH — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Tampa Electric $18,108 and gave the company two "serious" citations for its response to a gas leak at the Big Bend Power Station in May, the agency announced late Friday.T...
Published: 11/20/17