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Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan covers Hillsborough County courts for the Tampa Bay Times. Since joining the Times in 2010, he has written about unsolved crimes, the opioid epidemic, gun control, and Florida's death row, among other topics. In 2014, he was a Livingston Award finalist for a story that examined a legal loophole that allows Florida to hold mentally challenged criminal defendants without trial. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, he is a 2006 graduate of the University of Tampa, where he earned a degree in writing.

Phone: (813) 226-3386


Twitter: @TimesDan

  1. Man gets 40 years in deadly 2014 Hillsborough club shooting


    TAMPA — Dougie Glidden, who three years ago fired a gun outside a crowded nightclub, killing a woman, was ordered Friday to spend 40 years in prison.

    Glidden, now 21, was 18 when he visited Club 301 on U.S. Highway 301 early one morning in August 2014. He got into a scuffle with security officers after they refused to let him reenter the club. He then broke the window of a truck in the parking lot, according to court records....

    Dougie Glidden, 21, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Mirabel Sanchez-Garza, 49, of Plant City, who was shot and killed in 2014  outside Club 301 in Tampa.
  2. Woman gets 40-year federal sentence for fraud convictions


    TAMPA — A woman federal prosecutors dubbed "the rare defendant who will pose an acute danger to society for as long as she walks this earth" was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for a money laundering and wire fraud scheme.

    Priscilla Ellis, 51, who awaits another sentencing for plotting to kill several witnesses in her federal trial, received the maximum sentence for each of the fraud-related crimes a jury said she committed....

    Priscilla Ellis was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a series of fraud-related crimes. She still awaits sentencing in a separate case in which she was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill witnesses in her federal trial.
  3. State will re-try Heidi Quinn in buried guns case following mistrial


    TAMPA — The state has decided to re-try Heidi Quinn, the Valrico mother whose evidence tampering trial last week ended with a hung jury.

    Assistant State Attorney Nicki Mohr announced in court Thursday morning that a new trial would be held for Quinn, who is accused of hiding guns after her teenage son fatally shot a Brandon High School basketball player in a botched drug deal.

    The new trial date is Dec. 4....

    Heidi Quinn, whose son told authorities he killed Brandon High School basketball player Jayquon Johnson in self-defense, is accused of trying to hide both teens' guns by burying them in a trash bin filled with dirt.  [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Father gets more time to hire attorney in slaying of 13-year-old Janessa Shannon


    TAMPA — In the courtroom, prosecutors assembled their detectives and forensic experts, ready to argue that the man they say killed his 13-year-old daughter is too dangerous to be allowed out of jail.

    But as the Wednesday morning court hearing began, Nahshon Shannon raised his shackled hands.

    His public defender wasn't listening to him, he complained to a judge. He wanted more time to look for a new lawyer....

    Nahshon Shannon, accused of killing his 13-year-old daughter Janessa Shannon, appears for a court hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse on Wednesday. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Why did a jury fail to reach a verdict in the trial of the Valrico mother who buried guns?


    TAMPA — When a Tampa mother went on trial this week, accused of hiding guns after her teenage son shot another boy in a drug deal, the one expectation was that a jury would decide her fate.

    Yet after less than three hours of deliberations, the panel of four women and two men declared themselves hopelessly deadlocked. Even after Circuit Judge Nick Nazaretian gave them a secondary set of instructions and sent them back in, the jurors didn't budge....

    The trial of Heidi Quinn, the mother of the teen who killed Brandon High School basketball player Jayquon Johnson, ended after a jury declared itself hopelessly deadlocked after just three hours of deliberation. Quinn is accused of trying to hide the guns in a dirt-filled trash can. [OCTAVIO JONES   | Times]
  6. Janessa Shannon, 13, may have been strangled, had cocaine and alcohol traces in her body, court record says


    TAMPA — Her nose was broken. She had fractures above two teeth. Janessa Shannon, 13, was hit and possibly strangled in the final hours of her life.

    She also had traces of cocaine and alcohol in her system when she died.

    The findings are part of a motion filed Friday by the office of State Attorney Andrew Warren in an effort to have the girl's father, Nahshon Shannon, held without bail as he faces charges of aggravated child abuse and felony murder in her July death....

    Shannon Nahshon appears before Judge Margaret R. Taylor on Friday from the Hillsborough County Jail. Nahsh is charged with first-degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of his 13-year-old daughter. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  7. Father charged in 13-year-old Janessa Shannon's death

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Nahshon Shannon once told a judge his ex-girlfriend was "unfit to provide a safe environment" for their children.

    On Thursday, authorities charged him with the murder of their 13-year-old daughter, Janessa.

    Shannon, 37, was arrested at his home on charges of first-degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse.

    "I knew from the very beginning," the girl's mother, Michelle Mosley, told the Tampa Bay Times. "My only words to him would be 'How could you?'"...

    Janessa Shannon, 13, was found dead July 12 in the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Hillsborough County. [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]
  8. Jury deadlocks over mom accused of burying guns in Brandon High athlete killing


    TAMPA — A jury deadlocked just two hours into deliberations, leaving a Hillsborough County judge to declare a mistrial Tuesday in the case of a mother accused of burying guns after her son shot and killed a Brandon High athlete.

    "After extensive deliberation ... we are not able to come to a unanimous verdict," the jury forewoman wrote to Circuit Judge Nick Nazaretian. "More time tomorrow will not affect the verdict dispute."...

    Cody Quinn, 17, avoided criminal charges in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jayquon Johnson because investigators could not refute Quinn's claim of self-defense. Quinn does face related drug charges. His mother, Heidi Quinn, faces charges of tampering with evidence. Authorities said she tried to hide two guns immediately after the shooting. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  9. Andrew Warren threads the needle in death penalty debate


    TAMPA — Amid a statewide furor that arose when his Orlando counterpart announced her opposition to the death penalty, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren sought to clarify his own position on capital punishment.

    In a three-page policy proposal in March, he wrote that he would pursue the death penalty only in the very worst cases, and not in cases "where mental illness played a role in the commission of the crime."...

    Newly elected Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has vowed to push for reforms in the criminal justice system.
  10. Former Odessa youth pastor gets 10 years for sex with girl from church


    TAMPA — Everything had been worked out.

    The former pastor had already admitted to sexually abusing one of his teenage congregants. He had agreed to serve 10 years in prison. He said nothing as he waited Thursday for a judge to pronounce the sentence.

    But the girl's mother couldn't stay silent.

    "He used God as a weapon," she told the judge. "Fear as a weapon. Her own beliefs as a weapon."...

    Samuel Sutter was a youth pastor at Openwater Church in Odessa. He was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for sex acts with a girl who was 15.
  11. Steven Lorenzo appears in Tampa court, 13 years after torture murders


    TAMPA — He's accused in the sadistic murders of two men more than a decade ago. Last week, he was brought back to Hillsborough County to face trial. He faces the death penalty.

    None of that appeared to matter much to Steven Lorenzo when he appeared in court Wednesday morning.

    He told a judge he doesn't want a lawyer, that the court was "a fiction," and that he had already "settled" his case....

    At an arraignment in Hillsborough Circuit Court on Wednesday, Steven Lorenzo said he wants to serve as his own attorney during his trial in the sexual torture murders of two Tampa men. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
  12. Mom accused of burying guns after fatal teen shooting declines plea deal


    TAMPA — The Valrico mother accused of hiding the guns after her teenage son shot and killed another boy in their garage told a judge Tuesday that she wants a trial, not a plea deal.

    Heidi Quinn rejected offers of probation and gun safety school. Her trial on two counts of tampering with evidence starts Monday. If a jury finds her guilty, she could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison....

    Heidi Quinn is accused of hiding two guns after her son, Cody, fatally shot 17-year-old Jayquon Johnson in their garage. She faces charges of tampering with evidence. Her son was not charged in Johnson's death because authorities ruled it self-defense. He does face related drug charges. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  13. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home


    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    The crash happened about 5:30 p.m. at 9450 Roberts Road.

    The pilot, Bradley John Bates, 51, of 10207 Lake Grove Drive, called 911 after the crash, Hillsborough Fire Rescue officials said. He was the only person onboard.

    "The pilot was then brought out of the aircraft, put on a backboard and taken to a local area hospital as a trauma alert," said Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokesman Corey Dierdorff. "There was significant damage done to the roof of this home. Thankfully no one was home."...

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  14. Neo-Nazi roommate of Tampa Palms murder suspect to plead guilty to federal explosives charges


    TAMPA — Brandon Russell, the neo-Nazi former roommate of double-murder suspect Devon Arthurs, is expected to plead guilty next week to federal explosives charges.

    Russell's attorney, Ian Goldstein, said Wednesday that his client will admit to possessing a destructive device and storing explosive material. Authorities discovered the items at the Tampa Palms apartment where he lived with Arthurs....

    Russell is accused of possessing a destructive device and storing explosive material.
  15. Ex-HARC boss Richard Lilliston gets five years for role in diverting Social Security from disabled clients


    TAMPA — Richard Lilliston used to be admired. Now, old friends shun him.

    In the years when he ran a Hillsborough County agency for the mentally disabled, he enjoyed a reputation as a man who dedicated his life to serving those less fortunate.

    But on Monday, a federal judge sent the 70-year-old Lilliston to prison for the longest term possible — five years — for taking advantage of those very same people and stealing from the government in the process....

    After photo of  group home once operated by the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens. Former chief executive officer Richard Lilliston was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for his role in a scheme that involved the theft of Social Security money from HARC clients. [Photo courtesy of Richard Lilliston]