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Man wanted for murder, girlfriend found dead after Gibsonton standoff

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team surrounds the mobile home at 9641 Symmes Road in Gibsonton.

LUIS SANTANA | Times

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team surrounds the mobile home at 9641 Symmes Road in Gibsonton.

GIBSONTON — James Seagraves came to the front door of the mobile home and put his cellphone on the ground. He taunted the deputies who went there Thursday to arrest him on a murder warrant to pick it up.

Deputies heard there might be weapons inside. They were leery.

"He was very antagonistic toward the deputies," said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. "There was no indication at all that this was probably going to end peacefully."

After a nearly five-hour standoff at the mobile home at 9641 Symmes Road, Seagraves, 29, and Kayla Nemoto, 20, were found dead in a bathroom.

Seagraves, who grew up in Tampa but more recently lived in DeLeon Springs, was suspected of murdering a restaurant manager in DeLand on March 31, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Nemoto of Deltona is listed on her Facebook page as being "in a relationship with James Seagraves."

The couple had been together since September 2007, their Facebook pages shows. A photo he posted on his page in April shows a pregnant Nemoto.

Gee said deputies never fired into the home.

The causes of the pair's deaths had not been released Thursday night.

The Gibsonton mobile home belongs to Seagraves' father, records show, but it was unclear if the father lived there.

The younger Seagraves had just been released from state prison in March after serving a robbery sentence, Department of Corrections records show.

Later that month, DeLand police say, he shot and killed Thomas Walsh, the manager of the Mainstreet Grill in DeLand.

DeLand police have not given details about why they think Seagraves killed Walsh, the Sentinel reported, but Seagraves used to work at the restaurant.

Seagraves has a string of felony arrests, records show, and has done three stints in state prison since 2001.

On his Facebook page, Seagraves said he was a member of Tampa's King High School Class of 2000.

In 2001, he was convicted of stealing former Tampa Bay Devil Ray Dwight Gooden's Lexus from a Town 'N Country car audio shop.

Nemoto also had a criminal history, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show. She served three months in the Marion County Jail after pleading guilty to a 2009 strong-arm robbery.

Thursday's standoff began at noon when deputies attempting to serve a murder warrant confronted Seagraves at the home, and he tried to bait them with the cellphone stunt, according the Sheriff's Office. Deputies evacuated two nearby homes.

After making it clear he had no intention of coming out, Seagraves talked with hostage negotiators until 4:30 p.m., said Larry McKinnon, a sheriff's spokesman.

Reporters at the scene heard crashing noises as SWAT deputies shot tear gas and flash-bang grenades through windows.

At 4:45 p.m., a Sheriff's Office tank broke down the front door and deputies went in. Seagraves and Nemoto were already dead, the Sheriff's Office said.

Thursday night, detectives began collecting evidence and investigating their deaths.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Man wanted for murder, girlfriend found dead after Gibsonton standoff 05/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 12:20am]
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