Thursday, December 14, 2017
Public safety

Trial begins in killing outside St. Petersburg pool hall

LARGO — A hail of gunfire ripped into a St. Petersburg house two years ago and the bullets somehow missed the six children, ages 2 through 15, who huddled inside.

The case has never been solved. But on Monday, the echoes of the drive-by that nearly turned tragic came to a courtroom.

That's because Dwayne M. Bailey is accused of shooting to death a man named Marquell Burge, 30. Authorities have long suspected associates of Burge's caught wind of his death and came back to the house where Bailey was staying to pay him back with gunfire.

The murder trial against Bailey, 27, began Monday, and it will give jurors a glimpse into this March 2011 night of violence in St. Petersburg. But only a glimpse. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico said prosecutors can mention the shooting at the house but not the retaliation theory.

In an unusual development, Assistant State Attorney Frank Migliore raised the possibility of taking jurors to the scene of the fatal shooting, behind a pool hall called the Game Room, 1149 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S, St. Petersburg. Federico reserved time for today for him to argue why it would be necessary.

Prosecutors told jurors that Bailey got out of jail in March 2011, got a Subway sandwich and stopped by the Game Room.

Later, someone came to the alley behind the Game Room and said he wanted some drugs. When Burge came out, a man raised a gun to the back of Burge's head and fired.

"The gun went off, Bo Diddley, he fell on his face," said Lorenzo Brown, 50, an eyewitness who cleaned up around the Game Room. Burge was known as "Bo Diddley" or "Bo."

He was "shot one time in the back of the head, he fell face down in the gravel," Assistant State Attorney Susan St. John said. "He was shot in the head by Dwayne Bailey during a robbery."

Defense attorney Richard Watts disputed that during his opening statement. He said Bailey had gone to the Game Room earlier in the evening but did not shoot Burge.

The state's case, he said, is based entirely on "eyewitness misidentification and jailhouse snitches."

"You won't be presented with any hard evidence," he said.

During Brown's testimony Monday, defense attorney Lane Lastinger asked if he really could identify Bailey even though the killer covered his face with a black T-shirt.

Brown said he could identify Bailey by his light skin, a tattoo on his neck and because he recognized his eyes.

The shooting into the home that followed Burge's death was reminiscent of a 2009 shooting that killed 8-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton. She died after a neighborhood gang shot into a home while seeking revenge against another gang. People trying to end violence in the city rallied around that case.

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

An heir to a local flooring company charged with failing to report the death of a young woman last year has a troubled criminal history and was a source of strife in his family business, according to court records.Robert Butler III, 52, was arrested ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Jonathon Adams heard a scream, "like a dog getting run over by a car," then saw a minivan come tearing around the corner with a woman he knew dangling out of the passenger side.It was the start of a deadly sequence of events Dec. 8 that ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

DADE CITY — A 25-year-old man wanted in connection with the attempted robbery of a taxi driver in Lakeland turned himself in late Wednesday night after being prompted by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Edner Dely of Dade Ci...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Deputies: Fleeing suspect shoots, injures dog as he runs through yards

DOVER — While fleeing from deputies, a man shot a dog inside a fenced yard Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were attempting to pull over a vehicle that might have been stolen near Milagro Court and Bl...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Amtrak train strikes, kills 60-year-old woman in Lakeland

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 60-year-old woman who was hit by an Amtrak train on Thursday.The woman was struck at 12:30 p.m. in the railroad intersection of Highway 92 East and Fairway Avenue in Lakeland, deputies ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Palm Harbor woman, 23, killed while crossing Seminole Boulevard

SEMINOLE — A 23-year-old Palm Harbor woman was fatally injured when she was struck by a sport-utility vehicle while crossing Seminole Boulevard on Wednesday night, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.The incident took place at about 8:4...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Second Ruskin man sought in theft of cell tower equipment that interrupted service

TAMPA —The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a warrant for the arrest of a second suspect in the theft of batteries from cell phone towers that interrupted phone service and the 911 emergency call system.Investigators are looking for ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida Missing Child Alert canceled for Jacksonville boy, 2

Florida Missing Child Alert canceled for Jacksonville boy, 2

A Jacksonville boy, 2, who was reported missing early Thursday morning, has been found safe.A Florida Missing Child Alert has been canceled for Legend Jones, who had last been seen in the 1900 block of Fouraker Road in Jacksonville, according to the ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Crash downs power lines, closes N Florida Avenue in downtown Tampa

TAMPA — A portion of North Florida Avenue is closed in downtown Tampa as TECO crews repair downed power lines after a crash late Wednesday night.The crash occurred around 11:35 p.m. at the intersection of N Florida Avenue and E Fortune Street, accord...
Published: 12/14/17

HCSO continues homeless outreach efforts

BRANDON — A cool crisp breeze swept through the morning grounds of the New Hope Methodist Church as individuals stood in line wearing sweatshirts, jeans and other warm attire as they waited to receive assistance.Deputies from the Hillsborough County ...
Updated: 3 hours ago