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Lawyer questions why no arrest has been made in Hernando hit-and-run

Stanley Barnes, left, poses with his grandson Malachy and son, Vincent, who was killed on his bicycle in a hit-and-run in April.

Courtesy of the Barnes family

Stanley Barnes, left, poses with his grandson Malachy and son, Vincent, who was killed on his bicycle in a hit-and-run in April.

BROOKSVILLE — On a warm Sunday in April, Vincent Barnes lay bleeding on the side of U.S. 19. His bicycle was twisted and gnarled and smashed into pieces around him. A tire track was stamped across the phrase "God's Word" on the front cover of the Bible he had carried.

A man in a black Chevrolet Silverado pickup, witnesses say, had just run him over, sped away and left the 28-year-old to die.

Tampa lawyer J. Steele Olmstead believes he knows who the man in the truck was.

In a letter mailed this week to the Florida Highway Patrol, Olmstead identified his suspect and offered evidence he believed would help investigators solve the crime. Olmstead represents Barnes' ex-wife, who is now raising the couple's young son alone.

The alleged killer, according to Florida Department of Motor Vehicles documents, owns two Silverados, one of which is black. A relative, records show, also owns two, one of which is black.

In his letter, Olmstead asked what troopers had done to locate the vehicle that killed Barnes and if the trucks he pointed out had been investigated.

"This is a significant incident," Olmstead wrote. "It was a senseless murder of a cyclist in broad daylight, with eyewitnesses (and) physical evidence from the murder vehicle; the killer has not been charged, and a little boy is fatherless.

"It also appears," he added later, "there are steps that can be made which may have not been made."

Olmstead sent the letter Thursday, so Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins could not comment on its contents. He also couldn't address details of the case but said troopers are still actively investigating the incident.

At the time of the crash, authorities believed the driver was a white man and that the truck had after-market rims and a hard-shell bed cover.

The man Olmstead named — whom the Times is not identifying because no one has been charged in Barnes' death — has a checkered driving history.

After a Citrus County incident a few years ago, he was convicted of leaving the scene of a crash where a death had occurred.

He received a two-year prison sentence.

In the last 10 years, he has been arrested seven times. That includes two DUI charges and several other traffic offenses.

At the time of his death, Barnes was living in a tent to save money to buy a house.

"Vinny," to all who knew him, never parted with his Bible. As he did on the day he died, Barnes packed it with him on his 40-minute bike ride to work at Texas Roadhouse on Cortez Boulevard, where he washed dishes.

Co-workers said he took pride in his work.

He was named the restaurant's employee of the month just weeks before he was killed.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@sptimes.com.

Lawyer questions why no arrest has been made in Hernando hit-and-run 10/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 9:28pm]
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