Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury returns guilty verdict in 2006 murder

James Ray Booth rubs his eyes while listening to his attorney ask questions of potential jurors Monday. Booth is on trial for the October 2006 shooting death of Kenneth LaPointe.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

James Ray Booth rubs his eyes while listening to his attorney ask questions of potential jurors Monday. Booth is on trial for the October 2006 shooting death of Kenneth LaPointe.

BROOKSVILLE — Lured into a dangerous situation by an unshakable crack-cocaine habit, James Ray Booth was fending off a pair of aggressive debt collectors when he accidentally shot and killed a man in October 2006, his attorney told a Hernando County jury Wednesday.

During her 45-minute closing argument, Tricia Jenkins tried to paint a picture of Booth as a weak man unfairly targeted as the lead suspect in Kenneth LaPointe's shooting death by both an unreliable witness trying to avoid jail and a careless group of Hernando County investigators.

Booth, 58, faced charges of first-degree murder, armed burglary and three related charges. He faced life in prison if convicted.

"Mr. LaPointe is dead and we're in this courtroom trying to figure out what happened," Jenkins said. "Wouldn't it be nice if the process had been done correctly and we all knew what happened?"

Jenkins and Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino spent nearly 2 1/2 hours Wednesday making their final pleas to the panel of four women and two men. The jury went into deliberations at about 6 p.m. and returned later after finding Booth guilty of murder in the third degree with a firearm causing death, and aggravated assault with a firearm.

He was found not guilty on burglary and aggravated battery charges.

Prosecutors say Booth went to 21330 Canal Drive in DaMac Estates on the afternoon of Oct. 21, 2006, to pay off a drug debt. Booth left the home and returned later with two rifles, leaving one on the kitchen table and pointing the other at Thor Richmond, who has been described as the enforcer for a local drug dealer.

Booth and Richmond began to struggle, and the rifle fired two to three times. The fight spilled into the front yard, where a neighbor, Denny Webb, overhead Booth tell Richmond, "I killed before. I will kill you (too)."

The homeowner, Kenneth LaPointe Sr., 56, was sitting at the kitchen table when the shooting began. One of the bullets struck him in the chest.

As Richmond and Booth took the battle outside, LaPointe staggered to a couch where he fell over and died. Outside the house, Richmond had finished the fight with the gun in his hand; Booth drove off to his girlfriend's house.

Magrino said Wednesday that Booth initiated the trouble by returning to the home with the rifles.

"Folks, he's the one who brought the guns to the gunfight," Magrino told the jury. "He's the aggressor with regard to the shooting at (LaPointe's) home."

But Jenkins argued that much of the prosecution's case rested on the shaky testimony of Richmond, who told investigators that he was angry that Booth had bought drugs from someone else when he owed Richmond $150 for crack cocaine.

"Mr. Booth was acting in self defense," she said. "He did not mean for Mr. LaPointe to die. He meant to defend himself from a man who was willing to put everybody in danger to collect money that wasn't even his. It makes me wonder how much his testimony is worth."

Jenkins also was critical of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office forensics unit, which she claimed hurt the entire investigation by not thoroughly securing the crime scene.

"We don't know whether (LaPointe) was shot in the living room or not," she said. "In that mess, we had a hard time finding any evidence at all. . . . There are a lot of things we don't know because the crime scene wasn't processed correctly."

Jury returns guilty verdict in 2006 murder 05/14/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 12:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It's fake

    National

    The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least four of President Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

    A framed copy of Time magazine, dated March 1, 2009, that hangs in at least four of President Donald Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland, is fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time. The real March 2, 2009, issue of Time featured actor Kate Winslet on the cover. But the issue makes no mention of Trump. [Left, Time; right, Angel Valentin for the Washington Post]
  2. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid

    Editorials

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  3. Vince Young takes shot at Bucs' Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Blogs

    Former NFL quarterback Vince Young, out of the league since 2011 and complaining about not getting more opportunities to prolong his career, took a shot at new Bucs backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a story posted at …

    Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Bucs to be Jameis Winston's backup this fall, has played for six other NFL teams in his 12 seasons in the league.
  4. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO

    Editorials

    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …