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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. Clearwater lawyer Ramon Carrion wins new pro bono award

    Criminal

    Ramon Carrion, a longtime Clearwater immigration lawyer, has been honored by the Pinellas-Pasco Judicial Circuit for the extensive legal services he has provided over the years at no charge.

    Carrion on Friday received the Sixth Circuit Pro Bono Award, a new award created at the urging of Circuit Judge Kimberly Todd.

    In addition to providing many hours of volunteer work with individual clients, Carrion also is president of Gulfcoast Legal Services and president of the InterCultural Advocacy Institute, formerly known as the Hispanic Outreach Center, in Clearwater....

  2. Man convicted of manslaughter after rapping about crime

    Criminal

    A Pinellas man has been convicted of manslaughter in what authorities said was a shooting over a drug deal.

    Eddie Walker, now 27, was arrested in September 2012 and accused of using a 9 mm handgun to shoot Terrance Thomas of Largo in the head. Authorities said Walker was upset because he bought a brick of cocaine from Thomas that was too impure, or "cut."

    They said Walker even wrote rap lyrics alluding to the crime, including: "When I get dis dope an I don't make a profit, I'm a grab my 9 and I'm a go to robbing."...

  3. Stetson law prof took Gideon case to Supreme Court, but believed in the other side

    Courts

    Bruce Jacob, a bright young lawyer from Florida, had landed the case of his career.

    He was 27, just three years out of law school. He had seen Washington, D.C., once in his life, driving through on the way to somewhere else. Now he was flying to the city to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

    This was a big one, even by high court standards. The opposing counsel was Abe Fortas, a future Supreme Court justice. The chief justice was the legendary Earl Warren. The case would wind up in history books....

    Clarence Earl Gideon, in having to defending himself in court, changed the course of legal history.
  4. Lawyers rate judges in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough counties

    Courts

    A loose-knit group of lawyers has conducted a survey of county and circuit judges in the Tampa Bay area — and offered ratings of them.

    It's admittedly not a scientific study, because out of thousands of lawyers in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties, just 120 responded by returning completed surveys. When a similar survey was performed in Pinellas and Pasco counties last year, the chief judge said the sample size was too tiny to be considered valid....

  5. St. Petersburg man convicted in 2007 murder

    Criminal

    A jury on Thursday convicted a St. Petersburg man of second-degree murder for shooting a woman in 2007.

    Aaron T. Daniels, 31, could be sentenced to as little as 25 years or as much as life in prison when he returns to court May 22.

    "I like the verdict," said Florence Lago, mother of victim Amanda Fanter, who was 23 when she was killed. She said she hopes the judge sentences Daniels to life....

  6. Prosecutors will not pursue molestation accusation against Dunedin lawyer

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Nine months after prominent Dunedin lawyer Robert Tankel was arrested and accused of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office has decided not to pursue the allegation.

    Tankel, 58, thanked God, his family and his defense at a news conference Thursday in Tampa.

    "Lesser people would have seen what was in the paper and drawn conclusions that were inappropriate," he told reporters. "I'm just thankful that, unlike a lot of people falsely accused by law enforcement, I had the ability to defend myself." ...

    Prosecutors have decided not to pursue claims of child molestation against Robert Tankel.
  7. Clearwater woman says negligence led to four amputations

    Civil

    CLEARWATER — A Clearwater woman says in a lawsuit that a medical clinic's negligence is the reason both her arms and both her legs were partially amputated.

    "The bottom line is this is somebody who was walking around living a normal life and now has no arms below the elbows and legs below the knees," said the woman's attorney, Will Lazenby.

    Kim A. Aldrich went in January 2014 to the MedExpress Urgent Care clinic at 26813 U.S. 19 with a fever, a persistent cough and other symptoms, according to the lawsuit. She was told she had acute bronchitis....

  8. He prosecuted the wrong man for 1986 Pinellas murder, then the right one

    Criminal

    LARGO — The prosecutor who once tried to send the wrong man to prison walked out of a courtroom Thursday. And the wrong man walked up to greet him.

    "Thank you Mr. Ripplinger, for all your help," said Tom Franklin Sawyer, in a surprisingly cordial tone to a man who had wanted to convict him of murder. "And no hard feelings."

    Just as politely, Assistant State Attorney Richard Ripplinger said, "I'm sorry for what you went through."...

    Prosecutor Richard Ripplinger says he’s glad the legal system worked.
  9. For burning girlfriend alive, Pinellas man sentenced to life in prison

    Criminal

    LARGO — For burning his girlfriend alive, a man has been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    A jury on Friday found Jeffrey Robert Grant guilty of first-degree murder in the October 2010 death of his girlfriend, Jennifer Guthrie.

    Prosecutors said he had doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. The killing took place behind a bank branch at 14147 Walsingham Road, Largo, near where the couple had been sleeping periodically. They were homeless at the time....

  10. One man pleads guilty to 1986 murder; another feels vindication

    Criminal

    Tom Sawyer breathed easy on Thursday for the first time in nearly 30 years.

    He was in the front row of a Pinellas County courtroom when an Alabama man pleaded guilty to the 1986 murder of Janet Staschak, a woman whom Sawyer was once erroneously accused of killing.

    Sawyer silently pumped his fists, chest high, after Stephen Manning Lamont, 58, admitted to murdering Staschak and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years....

    Janet L. Staschak, 25, was found dead in her Clearwater home on Nov. 3, 1986. [Times files]
  11. Tom Sawyer, once wrongfully accused of murder, hopes to see a killer's guilty plea

    Criminal

    Tom Franklin Sawyer was wrongfully accused of a Clearwater murder nearly 30 years ago, and even confessed during an intense 16-hour interrogation that was later thrown out by the courts.

    Now Sawyer is so eager to walk into a Pinellas courtroom that on Tuesday he flew from Illinois to Tampa just to do so. The reason: He has heard the real killer may plead guilty.

    He said if that happens as scheduled on Thursday, "I'll just be elated, I'll just be happy. I'll just be free."...

    Tom Franklin Sawyer has feared a new arrest for many years.
  12. Trial begins for man accused of burning, killing girlfriend in Largo

    Criminal

    LARGO — What do you do when you love somebody, but you want to kill them?

    That's the disturbing question Assistant State Attorney Christopher Ballard put to a jury Tuesday morning, but it's not as if he was expecting an answer. He said he was quoting Jeffrey Robert Grant, who made the comment one day before Grant's girlfriend, Jennifer Guthrie, was doused with gasoline behind a Largo bank and set on fire....

    Jeffrey Robert Grant is accused of setting fire to his girlfriend, killing her, in October 2010 in Largo.
  13. Clearwater man gets life in prison for killing mother

    Criminal

    A Clearwater man pleaded guilty to murdering his mother and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    The guilty plea means Matthew Lohoski avoids a possible death sentence, which prosecutors had announced they were seeking after he killed his mother, Deborah, 59. He entered the plea last month.

    Lohoski, now 35, killed her in February 2014 in the family's back yard at 1709 El Trinidad Drive E off State Road 590, east of U.S. 19....

  14. Teenager Mychal King sentenced to life in prison for random killing

    Criminal

    LARGO — A teenager was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for randomly stabbing and killing a stranger passing by on a bicycle

    Mychal King hung his head and shook it when the judge asked if he wanted to say anything in the crowded courtroom. His mother made an attempt to stand up for her son, saying he was "not a bad kid," but had gone through a rough time of near-homelessness. "We all do stupid things," she added....

    Mychal King, 17,  is fingerprinted after being sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 22-year-old Jason Paul. [CURTIS KRUEGER | Times]
  15. Outgoing chief judge: Spate of recent murders shows need for better mental health care

    Courts

    The chief judge for Pinellas and Pasco counties says he can't remember a stretch with so many brutal murders.

    "It's incredible, it really is," said Judge Thomas McGrady. "I've never seen it like this. I mean, statistically crime is down. I think statistically murders are down, but you wouldn't know it in the last few months."

    In recent months, Pasco has seen a double-murder and a triple-murder, a Tarpon Springs officer was shot and killed, an Oldsmar woman was decapitated and a 5-year-old girl was thrown off a bridge to her death near the Sunshine Skyway bridge....

    “I’ve never seen it like this. I mean, statistically crime is down. I think statistically murders are down, but you wouldn’t know it in the last few months.” Thomas McGrady, the current chief judge of Pinellas and Pasco counties, will not run for a third term as chief judge.