Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two accused of Hernando County murders cross paths in courtroom

John Kalisz, in orange at left, listens as the pretrial hearing for Stanley Elias Eckard, also in orange, begins in Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing’s courtroom Friday morning. Eckard’s hearing on a murder charge was continued to March 25. Kalisz’ hearing on murder and other charges was postponed to May 6.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

John Kalisz, in orange at left, listens as the pretrial hearing for Stanley Elias Eckard, also in orange, begins in Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing’s courtroom Friday morning. Eckard’s hearing on a murder charge was continued to March 25. Kalisz’ hearing on murder and other charges was postponed to May 6.

BROOKSVILLE — Separated by 35 years in age, two men accused of some of this area's most heinous crimes in recent years stood just feet apart from each other in a Hernando County courtroom Friday morning.

For the first time since pleading guilty and receiving life in prison two weeks ago for the shooting of a Cross City deputy, John Kalisz stood clean-shaven and in an orange jumpsuit before Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing on a number of charges, including the murder last year of his sister and another woman. Rushing postponed Kalisz's hearing until May 6 so more experts and investigators can be deposed.

As the 56-year-old former roofer was fingerprinted, 21-year-old Stanley Elias Eckard stepped into the courtroom, charged with breaking his brother's neck and fracturing his skull before burying his body in the family's yard last year.

A pale, shackled Eckard motioned to his sobbing family members sitting in the second row just after Rushing announced that his hearing would be continued until March 25.

Authorities say Eckard told them he attacked his brother, Sean, because of jealousy over a girl. Early on June 19, he broke into Sean's locked room, reports say, and the two struggled until Eckard wrapped an elastic cord around his brother's neck and the pair fell to the floor, where Eckard heard Sean's neck pop.

"I had no intentions of killing him," he told investigators. "I was just in a fight with him."

Eckard then carried his brother's body through the bedroom window and buried it, with his bare hands, in the yard. The boys' father, Samuel Eckard, later dug it up.

Although Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino pushed for a charge of first-degree murder, the prosecutor has said he will not pursue the death penalty in Eckard's case.

Magrino has said, however, he will try to have Kalisz put to death.

Earlier this month, Kalisz agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison for killing Dixie County Sheriff's Office Capt. Chad Reed, who along with other deputies had tried to stop Kalisz at a gas station in Cross City just hours after authorities say his shooting rampage began in Brooksville.

Kalisz, prosecutors say, killed two people and injured two more at the Brooksville home of his sister, Kathryn "Kitty" Donovan, on Jan. 14, 2010.

Hatred toward his family and the judicial system, Kalisz told investigators 13 days after the killings, compelled him to kill.

"I shot everybody till the bullets ran out," he told them.

How many times was each person shot? "Until they shut up," he replied.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@sptimes.com or at (352) 848-1432.

Two accused of Hernando County murders cross paths in courtroom 02/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 7:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Muggy, warm conditions across Tampa Bay as afternoon storms stay mostly east of I-75

    Weather

    A muggy and slightly wet day is in on tap for Tampa Bay as most of the rain sticks east of Interstate 75 in the afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Trigaux: No more VinikVille as Water Street Tampa finally arrives

    Business

    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  3. Finally, Jeff Vinik's vision has a name: Water Street Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — For years, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the real estate executives he employs have been dreaming how to transform 53 acres of downtown Tampa into a major hub of living, working and entertaining in the city's core.

    Strategic Property Partners announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. This rendering shows the Tampa skyline with SPP's future buildings in place. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  4. Future, Ruff Ryders reunion tour coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

    Blogs

    Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is in the midst of a killer summer of rock (Green Day, Muse, Linkin Park) and country (Sam Hunt, Lady Antebelleum, Dierks Bentley).

    Future
  5. Rubio remains noncommital on Obamacare replacement but a likely yes vote

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio has been bombarded with phone calls, emails and on Monday, protests took place outside his offices in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens. But while the effort is most unlikely to dissuade the Florida Republican from voting for the Obamacare replacement -- if it even comes up for a vote this week -- he remains …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks at an event in Miami, Friday, June 16, 2017, where President Donald Trump announced a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations.