Thursday, December 14, 2017

Writers

Laura C. Morel

Laura C. Morel

Laura covers law enforcement and courts in Pinellas County. She joined the Tampa Bay Times in May 2012. Born and raised in Miami, she speaks Spanish and holds degrees from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston.



Roman Izzo, shown in this 2015 file photo, is accused of murder, but was later found incompetent after suffering head injuries in a motorcycle crash. A judge has ruled he can live in Kansas closer to family and friends. SCOTT KEELER | TIMES

Pinellas judge: U.S. Army major found incompetent to stand trial can leave Florida

LARGO — A Pinellas circuit judge ruled this week that Roman Izzo, a U.S. Army major charged with murder but found incompetent to stand trial after he was injured in a motorcycle crash, can move to Kansas with his family.Izzo was released on...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Daniel Edward Richards, 61, of Clearwater, confirms his intention to continue representing himself before Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger on Tuesday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

LARGO — Daniel Richards, on trial in the murder of his 83-year-old mother, began his own criminal defense on Tuesday by asking a few questions to the pool of prospective jurors."If you were accused of killing your mother, would you want to...
Published: 12/12/17
MELISSA LYTTLE   |   Times
 (April 25, 2012, Clearwater, Fla.) Former Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer is accused of sexually abusing a young girl for nearly a decade, ending when she turned 17 and spoke to police. Geer took the stand in his own defense Thursday. [MELISSA LYTTLE, Times]

Judge denies former Clearwater fire chief’s motion for a new trial

A Pinellas circuit judge denied a bid for a new trial in the case of Jamie Geer, the former Clearwater fire chief serving a life sentence for sexually abusing a girl throughout her childhood.Geer, now 63, was in court in October seeking the new...
Published: 12/11/17
Forensic odontologist Dr. Richard Souviron points to a blown-up photograph of Ted Bundy's teeth during Bundy's murder trial in Miami in 1979. (Associated Press)

Evolving forensic science prompts new look at old convictions

On the morning of Oct. 8, 1988, Lloyd Martz’s ex-wife found him slumped in the corner of his bedroom. The 49-year-old car leasing agent had been stabbed and beaten with a fire poker.During his autopsy, a medical examiner noticed bite marks on...
Published: 12/08/17
Courtesy of the State Attorney's Office, Tenth Judicial Circuit
 -- Crime scene photos from a burglary where 40 guns were stolen at Titan Arms, in Unincorporated Lakeland, Fla. on September 4, 2016.

Gun theft isn’t just a Florida problem; it’s happening in other states, too

In November, the Tampa Bay Times published a 10-month investigation about the growing stolen gun epidemic in Florida.Turns out this issue spans the entire country, according to a recent investigation by The Trace, a reporting nonprofit that...
Published: 12/05/17
Tampa police cordoned off the McDonald's in Ybor City on Tuesday.  [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES  | Times]

Cell tower data, like that used to link Seminole Heights suspect to slayings, is common police tool

Law enforcement officials have used cellular tower data as an investigative tool for more than a decade.On Tuesday, Tampa officers used it to link Howell Donaldson III to the Seminole Heights homicides.According to Donaldson’s arrest...
Updated one month ago
A demonstrator chants into a megaphone during a protest ahead of the arrival of President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach on Tuesday. The Trump administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. [Saul Martinez | Bloomberg]

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/30/17
Former Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer is back in court in his bid for a new trial. [Times files]

Former Clearwater fire chief convicted of molestation gets hearing in effort for new trial

LARGO — Jamie Geer, the former Clearwater fire chief serving a life sentence for sexually abusing a girl throughout her childhood, was back in a Pinellas courtroom on Monday for a hearing in his bid for a new trial.Pinellas circuit Judge Frank...
Updated: 2 months ago
JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
Patrick Evans talks with Allison Miller, one of his three public defenders, before jury selection continues in his trial Wednesday 10/11/2017. Patrick Evans, a former Jabil executive charged with killing his estranged wife and her friend almost ten years ago, was back in court for a second trial after his original death sentence conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court.

Former Jabil executive avoids death penalty for 2008 double murders

A few years ago, Patrick Evans was sitting on death row for the 2008 murders of his wife and her friend.Then, in 2015, the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction. On Wednesday after deliberating for four hours, a new jury convicted him...
Updated: 2 months ago
Patrick Evans talks with Allison Miller, one of his three public defenders, before jury selection this w eek. Evans, a former Jabil executive charged with killing his estranged wife and her friend almost 10 years ago, is back in court for a second trial after his original death sentence conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times

Former Jabil executive’s fate in hands of murder trial jury

LARGO — For a second time, Patrick Evans’ future is in the hands of a jury.Six years ago, he was found guilty of fatally shooting his wife, Elizabeth Evans, and her friend, Gerald Taylor, inside her Gulfport condo on Dec. 20, 2008.But...
Updated: 2 months ago