TAMPA — Hank Tippins could barely get the words out between sobs that racked his body so hard he hunched over and gasped for air.
"I'm so sorry for what I did to your mom and your family," he said haltingly. "I'm so sorry. I should have never been drinking that night. I should have never gotten in the car to drive."
Tippins, a 29-year-old engineer with a wife and a master's degree, had a 0.25 percent blood alcohol level about three hours after he ran a red light and hit several cars on Dec. 11, 2011, killing 64-year-old Linda Fessell, a longtime city of Tampa employee and breast cancer survivor....
TAMPA — Grisham-like allegations that lawyers set up an opposing attorney for a DUI arrest mid trial heated up Thursday when federal agents seized the cellphones of a lawyer and a Tampa police sergeant.
The scorching trial of shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem versus his radio nemesis earlier this year took a back seat to the question that has been the buzz of the legal community ever since:...
BRANDON — Deputies have arrested a 37-year-old Valrico man who they say twice grabbed jogging women.
About 10:30 a.m. Thursday, they say, a man jumped from the bushes and grabbed an 18-year-old woman's arm as she jogged with a friend on Natures Way Boulevard in Brandon.
The women later told deputies that they saw a pickup truck drive by several times and thought it was suspicious. They kept jogging, then noticed the pickup truck parked and empty....
RIVERVIEW — Deputies have accused a Power Electric Services accountant of embezzling more than $300,000 between 2007 and 2010.
They say Anastasia Wynne Beck, 40, of Riverview used the money to pay for expenses at her husband's businesses, as well as on cars, trips and day care for her children.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested her early Tuesday after a two-year investigation....
THONOTOSASSA — Authorities have charged a 46-year-old Thonotosassa man with raping a 12-year-old girl.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says Jose Luis Olquin-Sanchez, of 11613 Courageous Court, lured the young girl into his trailer Monday afternoon.
It was about 2 p.m., according to deputies, and the girl was trying to sell juice boxes to make extra money while her father was pressure-washing inside the Camelot Mobile Home Park, off Taylor Road....
TAMPA — An 18-year-old Tampa man is accused of using the personal information of 41 people to fraudulently apply for Visa debit cards.
Devonte Courtney Jackson got 22 debit cards between Feb. 13 and last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
He was able to obtain the personal information of patients at his mother's employer, ACE Homecare, by going through his mother's computer, deputies say. He had the cards mailed to friends' houses....
TAMPA — At first glance, Tuesday's event looked like a Fourth of July celebration.
Decked in red, white and blue and waving American flags, some in the crowd of about 120 people on Columbus Drive wore shirts declaring themselves patriots, proud to be Americans.
But they were angry. Standing in front of the Tampa office of the Internal Revenue Service, they said the agency's recent actions constitute tyranny....
TAMPA — The fourth and final man accused of beating an Army sergeant last year was sentenced Monday.
Jared Richardson, 19, got off with the lightest punishment of them all: six months in the county jail.
It was an agreed-upon sentence that withheld adjudication on his two felony charges: robbery and aggravated battery with great bodily harm. That means Richardson will not have a felony criminal record, Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta explained....
TOWN 'N COUNTRY — Authorities have charged a Town 'N Country man with attempted murder, saying he broke into the house of his estranged wife Saturday and tried to shoot her in the chest.
Julio Villanueva-Vasquez, 44, arrived at the house at about 1:30 a.m. and punctured the tires of a friend who was visiting his wife at 6720 Preston Court, deputies say.
He then broke into the house and fought with his wife, Katherinez Villanueva, 23, before pulling a handgun from his waist band....
05/20/13 Public Safety
RIVERVIEW — An Air Force staff sergeant died in a traffic crash Saturday near Riverview, according to the 6th Air Mobility Wing.
Staff Sgt. Cheryl Westbrook, 35, was traveling on Interstate 75 when she collided with another vehicle at about 10:45 a.m. She was an orthopedic surgical technician with the 6th Medical Operations Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base.
On Monday, the wing's commander, Col. Scott DeThomas, said in a prepared statement that Westbrook's death is a terrible loss for the wing....
SEFFNER — Ervin Washington called his mother from Walmart at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
His wife had stabbed him, he told her, and slashed all four tires on his truck. His mother picked him up, took him to her house and mended the wound. At 4 a.m. the next day, she drove him to work on his newspaper delivery route.
That's when they saw the wife again, trailing close behind.
Those events, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, led up to the slaying of a popular youth football coach with the Brandon Lions, once a Blake High School football standout in his own right, leaving a stunned community in mourning....
TAMPA — The jury took less than an hour to convict Rashad Hales of crimes that could send him to prison for life.
Hales was an ADT service salesman in December 2011 when he broke into a 19-year-old woman's Town 'N Country trailer and raped her, all the while threatening to kill her.
Hales held a cord to her neck and, later, a knife to her side. Later, he confessed everything to a Hillsborough deputy....
TAMPA — Kenneth Ray Jackson could be sentenced to death Friday.
A jury in November recommended the death penalty for Jackson, who was convicted of raping and fatally stabbing a 50-year-old Seffner mother of three in 2007.
A week earlier, the same jury deliberated two hours before convicting 30-year-old Jackson of attacking Cuc Thu Tran, who had been among thousands of Vietnamese "boat people" who made their way to the United States after the Vietnam War....
TAMPA — The ADT security salesman knew the young woman was alone when he went back to her home.
Rashad Hales pushed his way inside her Town 'N Country trailer and locked the door. He said he would kill her, she testified in court Tuesday.
He choked her and held a cord around her neck. He held her over a sink and said he could drown her. At one point, he put a knife to her side, she testified....
05/10/13 Human Interest
TAMPA — Thousands had learned from him and found inspiration through him. Some had been brought to God by him and become pastors because of him.
And on Friday, more than 2,000 people affected by the Rev. Arthur T. Jones brought Ehrlich Road to a halt as they flocked to his funeral at the church he started 24 years ago: Bible-Based Fellowship Church in Tampa.
It was a high-energy celebration, with a small orchestra and drums and a gospel choir more than 100 voices strong....