Jon Silman, Times Staff Writer

Jon Silman

Jon Silman covers crime and courts in West Pasco County.

He was born in California, grew up overseas, and graduated from the University of Florida. Before he joined the Times in 2013, he was the cops reporter for the Gainesville Sun.

Phone: (727) 869-6229

E-mail: jsilman@tampabay.com

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  1. Dive team finds guns near site of Hudson quadruple murder

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Investigators found numerous rifles, crossbows and knives in a creek behind the Hudson house where they say Adam Matos murdered four people.

    The items are listed in a newly released search warrant that details evidence found in and around the Hatteras Drive house where Matos, a recent transplant from Pennsylvania, was living with his girlfriend, their 4-year-old son and her parents. Authorities say he killed Megan Brown; her parents, Margaret and Gregory Brown; and a local man named Nick Leonard, whom Megan had recently begun dating. Matos faces four counts of first-degree murder....

    Adam Matos, 28, in jail since Sept. 5, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
  2. Girl, 14, accused of arson is released, charged as a juvenile

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A 14-year-old girl accused of setting fire to her house while her mother and brother slept inside was released from juvenile detention on Thursday.

    The girl was held for 21 days, according to Pasco-Pinellas Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis, and now her mother wants her home.

    She was charged as a juvenile with two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson. Next, her case will work its way through the juvenile justice system....

    The fire was lit in the garage as the girl’s mother and brother slept Sept. 4 at the Hermitage Lane home, authorities say.
  3. Hudson murder suspect Adam Matos appears in court; judge says he'll remain jailed

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Adam Matos, charged with the murders of four people in Hudson, made his first appearance in court Tuesday via video conference.

    Pasco County Judge Paul Firmani addressed Matos and asked him whether he needed a lawyer appointed.

    "Should I appoint a public defender?" he asked Matos, using a video screen.

    Matos, in a red jail suit, stood quietly and answered evenly, "Public defender."...

    Adam Matos, 28, makes his first Pasco County court appearance Tuesday via video. 
  4. Adam Matos charged with four Hudson murders

    Criminal

    After he killed four people, authorities say, Adam Matos set about the careful work of covering up his crime while caring for his young son.

    He bought a shovel at a Walmart in Hudson with one of the victim's debit cards, according to his Pasco County arrest affidavit. He sold their six dogs for $50 apiece through ads on Craigs­list, and concocted a story about the victims being away on a trip....

    Margaret Brown
  5. Much is riding on bail hearing for Adam Matos

    Criminal

    Quadruple murder suspect Adam Matos is being held at the Pasco County jail on $200,000 bail — but not because of the four bodies found stacked on a hill on Sept. 4.

    Matos is being held on a charge of aggravated assault. He's accused of holding a knife to the throat of one of those victims and threatening to kill her last month.

    But Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger called his client's bail "absurd" and an "abuse of the system."...

    Adam Matos is being held on $200,000 bail. His lawyer calls the amount an “abuse of the system.”
  6. Adam Matos' story in Pasco quadruple murder backed by no one (w/ video)

    Crime

    HUDSON — Adam Matos, the only suspect in a grisly quadruple murder, floated a new theory during a jailhouse interview this week about who he thinks might be the culprit.

    Matos is at the center of the investigation into the deaths of ex-girlfriend Megan Brown, her parents, Greg and Margaret, and her new boyfriend, Nicholas Leonard. Their bodies were found Sept. 4 stacked on a hill near the Brown home....

    Adam Matos isn’t charged in the Hudson quadruple murder.
  7. School bus aide accused of slapping boy with autism appears in Pasco court

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A former Pasco County School District bus aide accused of slapping a 10-year-old autistic boy on a school bus was in court Tuesday morning for a hearing. James Lambert, 57, is charged with two counts of child abuse in the June 3 incident, which was caught on video. His lawyer asked for more time to prepare the case, and another hearing was set for Oct. 10.

    After the hearing, the parents of the boy stood outside and expressed frustration that the case against the man caught on video slapping their son was taking so long....

  8. Hudson slaying victim 'was scared for her life'

    Crime

    HUDSON — Adam Matos was drunk when Megan Brown came home after a night out with her new boss and new boyfriend.

    Matos, Brown's ex and the father of her son, demanded to know where she'd been. They argued, according to a criminal complaint filed in Pasco County court, and Matos grabbed a silver kitchen knife and backed Brown into a corner.

    He held the knife up to her neck and said, "I'll (expletive) kill you," according to the complaint....

    Michael Shoup, center right, speaks on behalf of Nicholas Leonard’s family Monday during a news conference at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Family members, from left: Ed Paskala, Leonard’s mother’s fiance; Leonard’s aunt, Janet Paskala; Leonard’s mother, Paula Rystrom; Leonard’s father, Dan Leonard; Leonard’s sister’s boyfriend, Shoup; and Leonard’s sister, Danielle Leonard. Shoup read a statement about how Leonard “always went above and beyond for a friend in need.”
  9. Perspective: Murderers and childlike minds

    Perspective

    He kidnapped, raped and killed a pregnant woman and then a cop, heinous crimes that put him on death row. But with an IQ hovering around 70, his attorneys say he has the mind of a child.

    The state of Florida has wanted to execute him for decades. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a recent ruling that may fundamentally change capital punishment in America, says Florida got it wrong.

    The case of Freddie Lee Hall — Hall vs. Florida — hinged on the question of what makes someone mentally disabled. The Florida Supreme Court had established a "bright line" using the standard IQ test — only those who scored below 70 would be considered mentally disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty....

    Roger Cherry
  10. Suspect arrested, boy unhurt after massive manhunt in Pasco

    Crime

    Megan Brown was afraid of Adam Matos.

    He could be obsessive and aggressive. Sometimes he shouted and punched things. Recently he pulled a knife on her, investigators say. She didn't want him around their 4-year-old son.

    "I tried to give her a safe haven," said Jim Sigler, who owns the Fisherman's Shack bar in Hudson where Brown worked. "I told her she would be welcome at my house." ...

    Four people were found dead Thursday after investigators went to a house on Hatteras Drive in Hudson on a welfare check of the residents. A 4-year-old boy with autism was last seen at the house a week ago. He was found with his father, 28-year-old Adam Matos in the Floridan Hotel in downtown Tampa.
  11. Four people found dead in Hudson; autistic boy is missing

    Crime

    HUDSON — A week ago, Adam Matos showed up at the Get Hooked Grill, where he had worked as a dishwasher. Fired a few days earlier, he told a manager that he needed his last paycheck.

    Then he vanished.

    On Thursday, Pasco investigators went looking for Matos' 4-year-old son, Ismael "Tristan" Santisteban, who is autistic. What they found was carnage — four people dead on a hill — but no trace of the boy....

    Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco in a news conference Thursday appealed directly to Adam Matos to turn the boy over to authorities. Matos is considered armed and dangerous.
  12. Incumbent judge and several lawyers win Pinellas-Pasco judgeships

    Courts

    There were no real surprises or upsets in the Sixth Circuit judicial election results on Tuesday night, but one three-way race will not be going to a runoff.

    Alicia Polk, 36, won her race against private attorney Ken Lark, 55, and lawyer Alan Rosenthal, 43, outright, with about 52 percent of the vote. Lark came in second with about 30 percent, and Rosenthal came in a distant third with about 17 percent....

  13. Circuit Judge, Group 2

    Politics

    Circuit Judge | Group 2

    Three candidates are competing for the nonpartisan Sixth Circuit Group 2 vacancy. The winner will replace departing Judge Raymond Gross. If no candidate gets a majority, one will be eliminated and the remaining two will face off in November.

    Ken Lark, 55

    Private attorney

    Alicia Polk, 36

    Private attorney

    Alan Scott Rosenthal, 43...

    Ken Lark
  14. Group 2 candidates vying for judge have varying levels of experience

    Courts

    The three candidates campaigning to replace retiring Circuit Judge Raymond Gross in the Group 2 judicial election for Pinellas and Pasco all work in private practice but bring widely different life experiences.

    Ken Lark, 55, worked in the medical field for many years before going to law school in his 30s. Alicia Polk, 36, worked briefly as a prosecutor before moving into private practice, where she handles civil, family and personal injury and criminal defense law. Alan Rosenthal, 43, is an avid musician and a black belt in tae kwon do, and has his own practice where he concentrates on marital and family law ...

    Ken Lark was in the medical field before becoming a lawyer.
  15. After almost a decade behind bars, Holiday man gets chance at freedom

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A 62-year-old man who is eight years into a 20-year sentence for shooting at Pasco sheriff's deputies he mistook for hurricane looters won a chance at freedom Friday when a judge agreed to set bail ahead of his new trial.

    But J.J. Daiak, a former attorney with no previous criminal history, won't be leaving jail any time soon.

    Circuit Judge William Webb set bail at $400,000, much too high for Daiak's elderly mother or his long-time girlfriend Donna Vaillancourt to afford....

    J.J. Daiak was granted a new trial last month after a judge cited errors by his attorney.