Curtis Krueger, Times Staff Writer

Curtis Krueger

Curtis Krueger is the Pinellas courts reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, and has written for the Times since 1987. He also covers a variety of other issues, including space and science.

Phone: (727) 893-8232

Email: ckrueger@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CKruegerTimes

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  1. Army major charged with Clearwater murder released from jail

    Criminal

    CLEARWATER — An Army major accused of killing his wife's ex-husband was released on $1.5 million bail Thursday night, a rare case of a first-degree murder defendant being freed before trial.

    Roman Izzo, 36, will be required to return to court for an Oct. 13 pretrial hearing, for other hearings and for his murder trial, which has not yet been scheduled.

    Family members of Vincent Lee, the man Izzo is accused of killing, were not pleased....

    Izzo
  2. Another police action caught on video, this time in Largo

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Police were called to Joanna Rivera-Molina's apartment in July because her 14-year-old daughter was accused of acting out and hitting her.

    But when police arrived, Rivera-Molina, 41, questioned why one of the officers was searching her home. A Largo officer responded, "I'll be happy to leave and then you can deal with this s- - - by yourself."

    Shortly afterward, Rivera-Molina herself was arrested on a charge of domestic battery for lightly pushing her daughter as the teen tried to leave....

    This image, taken from a video, shows Largo police officers arresting Joanna Rivera-Molina.
  3. Pinellas House candidates trade jabs one day after primary victories

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Less than 24 hours after winning their Pinellas primary elections, candidates in two state House races came to a debate Wednesday and pledged to run civil campaigns.

    But before the hourlong debate was up, House District 67 candidate Steve Sarnoff questioned his opponent Chris Latvala's leadership ability. That prompted Latvala to jab back, saying Sarnoff had failed to stand up to questionable doings in his own party....

    Steve Sarnoff is a Democratic candidate for state representative in House District 67.
  4. Republicans coast to victories in Pinellas legislative races

    Elections

    Republican Chris Latvala and Democrat Steve Sarnoff will face off on Nov. 4 for a Clearwater-Largo state House seat, after scoring victories Tuesday in the only Pinellas County legislative race that had contested primaries for both major parties.

    In most other Pinellas legislative races, candidates easily glided to primary victories, with wins by Republicans Chris Sprowls, Bill Young and Jack Latvala. The exception was House District 64, where votes were not even counted because of an ongoing lawsuit. The district covers Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and parts of Hillsborough County. ...

    Chris Latvala, left, Republican candidate for state House District 67, poses for a photo with Frank Walker, owner of the Walker Ford dealership, as Latvala celebrates his victory Tuesday.
  5. Things to know in Pinellas County for Election Day

    Elections

    The primary election is upon us, but for many Pinellas County voters all that's left to do is wait for the returns.

    By Sunday, the ninth and final day of early voting, 16.4 percent of the county's 617,925 registered voters had already cast a ballot by mail or at one of the Supervisor of Elections offices.

    In addition to the gubernatorial and attorney general primaries, the early birds made their choices in contests for the state House and Senate and the Pinellas County Commission, School Board and Circuit Court bench....

  6. Mistrial declared in Pinellas murder trial of man accused of burning girlfriend

    Criminal

    LARGO — A mistrial was declared in a murder case this week after a juror admitted to looking at a news story about the crime.

    The move means prosecutors, defense attorneys and a judge will need to try again to conduct a trial for Jeffrey Robert Grant, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Guthrie, in 2010.

    "It is very frustrating," said Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Thomas McGrady. "There was a whole lot of time, effort and money spent to try this case, a very serious case."...

    Jeffrey Robert Grant is accused dousing his girlfriend with gas and setting her on fire.
  7. Pinellas House candidate Chris Latvala steps back from views in book he wrote as teen

    Elections

    Starting in high school, a young man in Jacksonville decided to explore some big moral issues — abortion, racism, violence, homosexuality — and write a book about them.

    The teenage author called for returning prayer to public schools, deemed homosexuality "a mistake someone makes," and said "abortion is wrong in all circumstances, except when the pregnancy could cause the mother's death."...

    Latvala’s book, published in 2001, offers views on racism, abortion and homosexuality.
  8. Two TradeWinds executives get prison for embezzlement

    Crime

    At a bustling hotel like TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach, you need a lot of computers to keep the business humming.

    So two of the resort's key financial executives frequently rushed payments to various IT businesses, sometimes making or approving disbursements via American Express and PayPal.

    But on Tuesday morning, former chief financial officer Sam Baage, 60, and former technology director Harold William James, 47, stood in court and admitted that all those computer expenses were a sham. ...

    Harold James, former technology director, must help pay $338,000 in restitution.
  9. Two Pinellas GOP candidates want to take on Democratic state Rep. Dwight Dudley

    Elections

    The starting point for any discussion of the Republicans in the state House District 68 race begins with one word: civility.

    The first reason comes from candidate Bill Young, who said he was inspired to run for office because of his father, longtime U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who died last year after serving more than four decades in Congress and was known for civility and bipartisanship. ...

    Bill Young says he learned a lot from his well-known father.
  10. Former Air Force sergeant sentenced to death in Pinellas

    News

    LARGO — Ralph Wright Jr. was sentenced to death Friday for killing his ex-girlfriend and their baby in a way that the judge called cold, calculated, heinous and cruel.

    During a hearing Friday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert recounted many details of the killing to explain his conclusion that "the death penalty is the appropriate sentence."

    Perhaps the most chilling part of the narrative came as Covert described how Wright came uninvited to the St. Petersburg home of Paula O'Conner, his ex-girlfriend....

    Ralph Wright Jr., 46, who was an Air Force sergeant at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa at the time of the killings in July 2007, showed no reaction Friday during his sentencing.
  11. State House, District 68

    Politics

    State House | District 68

    Two Republicans are vying for the right to run against incumbent state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg. The winner in the GOP primary will go up against Dudley in the Nov. 4 general election. Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer

     

    Joshua Black, 32

     

    Taxi driver...

    Biill Young
  12. State House, District 67 (Republican)

    Politics

    State House | District 67

    Republican state Rep. Ed Hooper is leaving this seat because of term limits and is running for a County Commission seat. Two Republicans and three Democrats are in the race to replace him in the state House of Representatives. The winners will face off in the Nov. 4 general election. Here is a look at the Republicans. Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer ...

    Chris Latvala
  13. State House, District 67 (Democrat)

    Politics

    State House | District 67

    Republican state Rep. Ed Hooper is leaving this seat because of term limits and is running for a County Commission seat. Two Republicans and three Democrats are in the race to replace him in the state House of Representatives. The winners will face off in the Nov. 4 general election. Here is a look at the Democrats. Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer ...

    Shawna Vercher
  14. Third inmate this year commits suicide in Pinellas County Jail

    Crime

    LARGO — Hours before he was scheduled to appear in court to face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, Larry Kobielnik killed himself.

    Deputies found him hanging by a shoelace early Thursday in the shower of his single cell, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

    Kobielnik is the third inmate to commit suicide in the Pinellas County Jail this year, the second to kill himself after being convicted....

    Larry Kobielnik, 38, hanged himself with a shoelace Thursday morning.
  15. VA health care rules may cost Pinellas veteran his life

    Veterans

    SEMINOLE — U.S. Army veteran David Davis was calm and clear-eyed on Monday, even as he sat in a congressman's office and told reporters about the cancer that will likely kill him.

    Davis, 60, said he went to a Veterans Affairs hospital for treatment of skin growths and was told he had a cyst or an infection. They gave him antibiotics.

    But Davis believed the problem was more serious....

    David Davis, right,  an Army veteran who says he went to the VA for medical treatment, didn’t get appropriate treatment or diagnosis  and now has stage 4 skin cancer,  holds a press conference in the  Office of U.S. Rep. David Jolly, left, on the St Petersburg College  Seminole campus Monday, 8/11/2014.   CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times