Friday, November 17, 2017
Public safety

Man accused in killing outside South Tampa church engaged in night of crime, police say

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TAMPA — The suspect accused of stabbing a homeless man and dragging him from the underside of a car in a South Tampa church parking lot spent much of early Thursday breaking the law, police said.

According to arrest reports, Michael Stuart Marston, 33, began his night of crime just after 1:30 a.m. by breaking into a storage room and stealing about $250,000 worth of building materials, including buckets of tiles and bags of concrete.

The items later littered the parking lot of Christ the King Church, 621 S Dale Mabry Highway, when a dead body was discovered wedged beneath a white Toyota Corolla.

Neighbors say Marston seemed disturbed and agitated the day before.

"I asked him was he all right because he had this blank look on his face," said Kevin DeSimone, 54, who lives in the same building on W De Leon Street in South Tampa. "He said he was fine, but he looked troubled."

Police said the victim was Rolando Rivera-Arroyo, 73, whom they said had no address or known family in the area.

It was not clear how or why Marston wound up in the church parking lot, but at about 4 a.m. he and Rivera-Arroyo began to fight, police said.

Marston stabbed Rivera-Arroyo at least three times in the neck before hitting him with the car and dragging the man about 800 feet around the parking lot, breaking several bones, according to the arrest report.

Police came across Marston before they discovered Rivera-Arroyo's body.

The arrest report states he was "wandering naked in the roadway" and had a cut on his right hand.

When the officer asked where his clothes were, Marston told her his clothing and his car were in the Christ the King parking lot, the report says. He also told officers that he hurt his family and had gone to the church to confess his sins.

When Tampa police went to the church to check out Marston's story, they discovered Rivera-Arroyo's body.

Marston, meanwhile, was taken to Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injuries.

When police attempted to arrest Marston there and put him into a patrol car, he tried to run from the arresting officers and tried to kick and head-butt them when he was restrained, officials said. The arrest report states Marston was ultimately restrained with leg irons and loaded into the patrol car.

No officers were injured in the confrontation.

Rose Flynn, 54, another neighbor of Marston's, said she doesn't understand how the kind man who helped her and her husband through their most difficult times could have done something like this.

"He was one wonderful neighbor and friend," Flynn said. "It's a shame he had some sort of mental and emotional break that brought him to this."

Flynn added that the relationship was strained between Marston and his wife and that she had heard the couple was going through a divorce.

"I just pray whoever evaluates him is a good doctor," Flynn said.

Marston was charged with second-degree murder, littering, burglary, petty theft, criminal mischief and resisting arrest with violence.

His occupation is listed as a Publix deli clerk. He has no criminal history in Florida, according to state records.

Marston remains in Hillsborough County jail without bail.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this report.

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