LARGO — If Eddie Jonathan Todd Walker is convicted of first-degree murder this week, it may very well be because of a rap song he wrote, text messages he sent, and the things he told his girlfriend.
Walker wrote lyrics to a rap song, which were recovered in the Pinellas County Jail by detectives. The song mentioned the drug trade and "snitches." Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said in court Tuesday that some of the lyrics will be introduced as evidence. Walker also told his girlfriend that he killed a man, and made incriminating comments in text messages, Rosenwasser told the jury....
LARGO — A jury could not decide on Friday whether Dwayne M. Bailey killed a man outside of a St. Petersburg pool hall, the second time Bailey has gone through a murder trial that ended in a hung jury.
"This is unreal. How much can I take?" said Peggy Burge, whose son Marquell Burge, 30, was shot in the head in March 2011 behind the Game Room, a pool hall and club at 1149 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S. ...
U.S. House | District 13
Republican David Jolly was elected to Congress earlier this year in a special election to fill the term of longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who died in office. Now Jolly is running for re-election. Libertarian Lucas Overby also ran earlier this year, collecting nearly 5 percent of the vote, and he too is running again. An independent write-in candidate, Michael Levinson, also is running. The Democratic Party did not field a candidate. By Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer...
State House | District 67
A Republican who is a former legislative aide and a Democrat who is president of a local union are running against each other for this North Pinellas legislative seat. Both say their backgrounds make them well-suited to help the people of this district. By Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer
Steve Sarnoff, 62...10/16/14Kyc
State House | District 68
Incumbent Rep. Dwight Dudley has been one of the Legislature's leading critics of Duke Energy. He is opposed by first-time candidate Bill Young, who says he would continue the public service tradition of his father, the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. By Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer
Dwight Dudley, 60...10/16/14Criminal
LARGO — Peter Kitt recruited his prostitutes from Tampa Bay's strip joints and street corners, and drove them to cheap hotels in Clearwater, Largo and Tampa to trade sex for money.
He fueled their addictions to pills and cocaine so they would keep selling their bodies. And if the drugs weren't enough, Kitt kept the women in line by choking, beating and raping them, all the while telling them to make more money, make more money....10/14/14Criminal
LARGO — Peter Kitt is accused of driving prostitutes from hotel to hotel in Clearwater, Largo and Tampa, setting them up in cheap rooms and supplying them with a steady stream of customers, pills and crack cocaine.
Some say he actually liked one of his nicknames: Willie the dumb--- driver.
But why would Kitt favor a name that made him sound like a low-level nobody?
"Throw people off," one of the people who testified against him said....10/13/14Criminal
LARGO — Two years after he killed a friend by drunkenly driving into a concrete pole, Garrett Bruce gathered his wife and children and fled for Texas in an apparent attempt to avoid a prison sentence.
But on Monday, Bruce stood in court and got the prison sentence anyway: 12 years in prison plus three years' probation.
And that was just for his DUI-manslaughter conviction. He must return to court on Friday to learn how much additional prison time he will face for failing to appear in court....10/10/14Elections
The Clearwater-Largo state House race offers voters plenty of contrast and controversy.
It pits Chris Latvala, son of an influential state senator, against a man of the people, Steve Sarnoff, a longtime union president.
Latvala, a 32-year-old Republican, is probably best known as the son of Sen. Jack Latvala, but the younger Latvala says his own experience and hard work — not just his last name — makes him well qualified for the District 67 seat....10/07/14Criminal
LARGO — Adrian David Rodriguez stood in a courtroom Tuesday, pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter, and received a sentence of 10 years in prison, plus five years of probation.
That wasn't the part that reduced him to tears.
It was right afterward, when Terri Holly also was allowed to stand in the courtroom, look him in the eyes and show him a photograph.
"I just want you to see my son," she said, holding up the photo. She asked him to take it to prison, "so that you will know how hard this is for you, for me, and for your mom and dad."...10/06/14Politics
ST. PETERSBURG — Prominent St. Petersburg Pastor Manuel Sykes changed his party registration to Republican on Monday, but stopped short of endorsing Gov. Rick Scott for re-election, as GOP officials had hoped.
Still stinging from the Democratic Party's maneuvers to muscle him out of a congressional race earlier this year, Sykes said he met a week ago with local Republicans who urged him to consider their party....10/03/14Civil
If Goodwill Industries-Suncoast had properly supervised inmates at its Largo work-release facility, Arthur Regula probably never would have been killed, according to a lawsuit filed this week.
Goodwill "failed in its duty" to keep track of Michael Scott Norris, according to the suit filed by attorney Steven K. Jonas, on behalf of Regula's estate.
Norris, who was a 36-year-old inmate serving a prison sentence for armed burglary and other charges, left the work-release center on Sept. 30, 2012, burglarized a St. Petersburg house, and killed two men inside it: Regula, 36; and Bruce Johnson, 51. Norris pleaded guilty to the murders and is serving a life sentence....10/02/14Elections
Ed Jany made big news more than four months ago when he announced his plans to drop out of a Pinellas congressional race, leaving Democrats without a candidate in a competitive House seat.
Though the news came in May, Jany's name will still appear on ballots. Votes cast for him will not count.
Some are complaining it will lead to confusion for voters.
Karena Morrison, who chairs the Pinellas Libertarian Party, said she's worried that people will vote for Jany without noticing that "he's not a viable candidate. And that is basically a wasted vote."...09/29/14Crime
PALM HARBOR — A 29-year-old Dunedin man was arrested and accused of breaking into a home and attempting to rape a 52-year-old woman while wearing a ninja mask.
Pinellas Sheriff's deputies arrested Nick James Nardelli on charges of attempted sexual battery, burglary and other counts.
Nardelli is accused of entering the woman's Palm Harbor home through an unlocked door, attempting to pin her down, and tying a zip-tie around one of her wrists. But the woman fought back and her attacker eventually fled....09/29/14Accidents
ST. PETERSBURG — The man who died in a fatal motorcycle crash on Friday has been identified as Randall Justin Petterson, 53, of St. Petersburg.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Petterson was riding south on 37th Street on a dirt bike when he crossed into the path of a sport utility vehicle driven by Yun Ping Teng, 50, of Pinellas Park who was driving east on 54th Ave. N. No charges were filed in the crash....