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Tampa beating victim went hours with no medical care before death

TAMPA — A brutally beaten woman survived as long as 10 hours without medical care last week while her boyfriend, the suspect in the attack, polled neighbors for advice on tending to her injuries at home, a court record shows.

Nakysha Hamilton, 22, was breathing hard and foaming at the mouth the night of April 13, when boyfriend Leon Dennard Stevenson Jr. called a neighbor, asking how to reduce swelling without ice, a detective reported in an affidavit for a search warrant.

Stevenson told the neighbor he thought his girlfriend was "faking," the affidavit said.

Stevenson, 28, has admitted to detectives that he beat Hamilton that night, threw her to the ground twice and choked her, according to the court record, filed this week.

The affidavit provides a glimpse into a violent night that was not unique in Hamilton's life, her friends and family say. She sometimes alleged abuse by Stevenson, with whom she had three children. But this time the beatings ended with a brain injury and death, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.

Investigators heard slightly varying accounts from Stevenson and his neighbors, whose statements were described in the affidavit. The St. Petersburg Times attempted unsuccessfully this week to reach the neighbors. They no longer live at the apartments.

Neighbor Rosa Silva, 39, told a detective that Stevenson had turned to her twice during the incident, once at night and again in the morning.

The first time, on the phone about 9 p.m., she said he described his girlfriend's breathing and foaming mouth. She told him to get medical help. Instead, Stevenson told detectives, he showered Hamilton and put her to bed.

In Stevenson's account to law enforcement, he estimated it was 2 a.m. when the fight over bills escalated. He said he hit Hamilton, choked her and destroyed items in their apartment, the affidavit states.

Then he threw her to the ground, the record states.

She got up and showered. After the shower, the argument resumed. Once again, the affidavit states, Stevenson threw her to the ground.

This time, he helped her up. He noticed the breathing problem as he helped her into the shower again, the record states. Then he put her to bed.

About 4:30 a.m., he laid down next to her and saw she still had difficulty breathing. He fell asleep.

He woke up about 7 a.m. and decided her breathing had worsened, the affidavit states. He called Silva. He carried Hamilton into the living room and set her in a recliner.

Silva arrived and noticed that Hamilton appeared limp but still breathing. She slapped Hamilton, trying to bring the woman around. It didn't work, and Silva later told a detective she had noticed Hamilton's skin was cool. She saw Stevenson attempt CPR, the affidavit states.

"I should have left her alone," she remembered hearing him say.

Silva told Stevenson to take his girlfriend to the hospital, but he was too afraid. Instead, about 8 a.m., he brought another neighbor into the apartment.

That neighbor, Derrick Graham, 33, later told a detective he didn't see any signs that Hamilton was breathing or had a pulse, the affidavit states.

Graham said he told Stevenson to take her to the hospital immediately. The neighbor watched as Stevenson placed her on the passenger seat of his black Mazda pickup and drove in the direction of University Community Hospital, the affidavit states.

But Stevenson didn't stop at the hospital. Instead, he drove on to his mother's apartment, off Fletcher Avenue near Interstate 275. He left when she called 911, the affidavit states.

Three and a half hours later, he turned himself in to deputies.

He was later charged with second-degree murder.

Times staff writer Dan Sullivan and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Tampa beating victim went hours with no medical care before death 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 10:46pm]
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