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Slain Tampa nurse told 911 her ex-boyfriend was there with a gun

TAMPA — Larsen Hunt called 911. Her ex-boyfriend was in the house with a gun, she said.

It was a rifle. The dispatcher heard it go off. When police arrived, officers found her shot in the face and hip, a medical examiner's report states.

That's how police knew to suspect Jason Paul Skinner, 30, in the Tuesday afternoon killing in her Seminole Heights home. He died 90 minutes later in a fiery car crash in St. Petersburg.

For more than a decade, women have been seeking protection from Skinner, records show. He was prone to violent outbursts. He failed at business. He drank. He dealt drugs. A family member tried to kill herself.

His life was slipping away.

He was under court order to stay away from Hunt. But he wanted her back.

She tried to break up with him on Sept. 20, which led to an ugly scene she described in her petition for an injunction. It began at 4 p.m., she wrote, when she told him she was moving out of his home on Hiawatha Street.

Skinner called her names and belittled her 5-year-old autistic son. He threw a plant across the living room, then hit Hunt with a metal broomstick he had retrieved to clean up the mess.

He threatened to pound her face in, she wrote, and slapped her in the back of the head before leaving.

But he returned several times, once crying and asking what he had done to make her want to stay away.

A judge issued an injunction for Hunt's protection Sept. 28. It was to be in effect for one year.

She thought he violated it on Oct. 13 when she found a pack of gum, flowers and a card on her car. Police weren't able to prove they were from Skinner.

• • •

Before Hunt, there were other women who wanted him to keep away.

In court petitions, the mothers of Skinner's two children pleaded for protection from a violent man.

Leslie Grulke, the mother of his 11-year-old daughter, asked for injunctions in 1999 and 2001. A judge dismissed her first request but granted a one-year injunction in 2001, records show.

And in 2009, Tabitha Guidry, the mother of Skinner's 2-year-old son, detailed her fears in a petition for injunction.

She wrote that Skinner was verbally and physically aggressive toward her for several years. She talked about his abuse of painkillers and cocaine.

Many times, she said, he threatened to beat her up. Guidry noted that Skinner kept three or four rifles in a case. A judge dismissed her case in August 2009 due to insufficient evidence.

• • •

Like his relationships, Skinner's business ventures ended badly. At times, things would be going well. Encouraged by his brother-in-law, Skinner opened his own business — a barber shop with a tattoo parlor.

A skull above a pair of shears welcomed customers to Barbers Inc, a blend of art and function nestled in a Carrollwood strip mall. The name was inspired by the 2001 movie Monsters, Inc., which he saw with his daughter.

"It's been the best thing that ever happened to me," he said in a radio interview last year.

The business came crashing down when authorities arrested Skinner in December 2009 on drug trafficking charges.

While searching Barbers Inc for a burglary suspect, deputies came across a bag of cocaine, a report states. Skinner admitted it was his and told deputies he had been buying the drug a half a kilo at a time and selling it by the ounce to make ends meet, the report states.

He faced at least a seven-year minimum mandatory prison sentence, and up to 30 years, because of the amount of cocaine involved.

But because he provided "substantial assistance" in Sheriff's Office investigations, prosecutors said, a judge sentenced Skinner to just seven years of probation in August.

As he was working with authorities, Skinner was getting his life in some semblance of order.

In February, he moved into a room at Salon 7 in Lutz, to which he sold his tattoo equipment in exchange for a few months' rent, said Kristin Medero, the owner.

At home, he was a single parent. He had custody of a well-mannered 11-year-old daughter, whom he had raised since she was a baby, Medero said.

Business was good, and clients were plenty. But when rent came due, Skinner wouldn't pay.

Saturday, a fight broke out between Skinner and the landlord, Medero said. Skinner quit and walked out.

Later, at night, he went back to the salon and stripped it of its equipment, decorations and fixtures — even parts of the drywall and baseboards, Medero said. It was a move typical for the man who frequently acted hastily and out of anger, she said.

Monday night, Skinner apologized to Medero and her husband, saying he would make things right.

• • •

Wednesday, authorities didn't release many details of the investigation.

Part of their job is piecing together where Skinner spent the 90 minutes between the killing in Seminole Heights and the crash in St. Petersburg.

They do know he stopped by his son's preschool at First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg.

A receptionist at the church said, out of respect for the family, the church would not comment.

In a Hillsborough courtroom Wednesday, families tried to pick up the pieces.

A judge agreed Skinner's sister could, for now, take custody of his 11-year-old daughter. And the same judge put Hunt's parents in charge of her 5-year-old son.

Times staff writers Dan Sullivan, Kameel Stanley, Jamal Thalji and Ileana Morales contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Slain Tampa nurse told 911 her ex-boyfriend was there with a gun 10/27/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:07am]
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