NEW PORT RICHEY — The lawyers drew battle lines with boxes of documents. On the hospital's side of the courtroom, trial accoutrement spilled from the attorneys' table to the first few pews. First row: three computers and support personnel. Second row: neatly stacked cardboard. Third row: same. Two cases of Zephyrhills bottled water, too. Also, a projection screen for viewing PowerPoint presentations and medical records....
Jury selection began Monday in the civil trial of a Pasco County man who claims he is disabled because of a misdiagnosis at a hospital emergency room.
According to court documents, Arcadio Hernandez, then 17, was suffering severe pain in and around his eye when he went to the emergency room at Morton Plant North Bay Hospital on Madison Street in New Port Richey on July 17, 2010.
A physician's assistant, Bethany Berghoffer, diagnosed Hernandez with conjunctivitis, commonly known as "pink eye," and the supervising physician, Helene Harper, signed off on it, court records show....
A new psychiatric hospital in east Pasco aims to help an underserved demand for mental health care in the county.
North Tampa Behavioral Health opened Oct. 1 on State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel. According to CEO Jim Harris, the hospital has 70-plus employees and 25 beds, with plans to expand to 75 beds and accept Baker Act and Marchman Act patients in coming months.
In Florida, the Baker Act is a way of providing emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment, on either a voluntary or involuntary basis. The Marchman Act is similar, but for people with addiction issues....
PORT RICHEY — Christine Curti of Holiday spent most of her life with only one kidney. About six years ago, she fell while horsing around with family and went into renal failure. The quality of life for the 50-year-old dropped rapidly and she was chained to a dialysis machine for 9 hours a day.
The hunt for a replacement kidney was on. Enter Valerie Maupin, a 24-year-old from California....
DADE CITY — A standout Pasco County soccer player will have to remain on the sidelines after a judge on Thursday ruled against him in his lawsuit over the school district's athletic transfer policy.
Michael Mazza, an all-conference midfielder for Pasco High last year, got permission from the district to transfer to Sunlake in the spring.
But once he got there he was told he wouldn't be able to play sports because of the district's policy that any student who changes schools must sit out athletics for a year, a safeguard against recruiting....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Marcus Wilson woke up in the darkness of Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park to his friend Christopher Martin performing a sex act on him.
Despite prosecutors' assertion that the two had maintained an intimate relationship in the past, Wilson said the act shocked and angered him. He attacked.
"I kicked him. I used my left foot to his right shoulder and I knocked him off balance," Wilson said in court Wednesday. "He tripped over his own legs and fell." ...
NEW PORT RICHEY — Two men in a white Dodge pulled up to Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park last year. Christopher Ashton Martin had just turned 30, and, according to prosecutors, he was going to camp overnight with Marcus Yulvaughne Wilson, then 18.
Martin spoke with an attendant, according to testimony in court, and selected campsite No. 2.
The two drank through the night and Wilson passed out, authorities said. It was May 13, 2012, Mother's Day....
LAND O'LAKES — Convicted killer John Sexton wants you to know he's just a regular guy.
He stressed this with cuffed hands and through jailhouse glass.
The 50-year-old grew up in Pangburn, Ark. A typical small-town upbringing, he says. His parents beat him, but by 1970s standards, it was normal. He has played guitar since he was 12.
His brother died in a firearms accident when he was 19 or 20, but everyone hunted, and everyone had guns. Normal. One time he killed a pet dog, but that's what you did with sick animals, he said. You shot them....
NEW PORT RICHEY — The three friends left the Players Club on a Sunday after midnight in October 2009. According to prosecutors, Shawn Cleaver, then 35, got behind the wheel of Harry "Buster" Diede's souped-up truck. The friends, which also included Mark R. Whisner, had been drinking most of the day. The pickup barreled along Denton Avenue at 90 miles per hour.
The road curved but the vehicle did not. It rode the guardrail, grinding metal and shearing off a fender, near East Road for about 100 feet. Then the truck took to the air, flipping four times, the Florida Highway Patrol said, before it slammed into a large concrete pole....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Shawn Evans wanted to tell his story unencumbered and without the annoyance of a lawyer's questions.
He'd waited a long time for the chance, in fact, more than 300 days — all of them spent in the Pasco County jail.
The state offered him an out, a sentence of time served, for showing up at a kindly neighbor's house and refusing to leave. But no, he wanted his day in court. ...
DADE CITY — Justin Lee Naber told his ex-wife they didn't need to worry about their roommate Charles Haag anymore.
What they did have to worry about, though, was the mess Naber left behind. They had to buy cleaning supplies, he told his wife Mysti Dickerson, according to her testimony. They had to move his body.
She helped him, she said, because she was scared.
"The same thing's going to happen to you if you don't help me clean up," she said he told her. ...
NEW PORT RICHEY — The burglar broke in through an unlocked Florida room after midnight on August 9, 2011. From there, he opened a kitchen window and crawled through. He sneaked into a bedroom where Kenneth Staack, then 77, slept in a house in Holiday.
Then came the blows. Staack thought it was a hammer.
"He took a metal yardstick, turned it flush and began hacking away at the victim," Assistant State Attorney Andrew Mallory said in court Thursday....
Already convicted of felony attempted murder and sentenced in Hernando County to life in prison, Michael Anthony will next face a Pasco County jury on a first-degree murder charge.
"It's a separate offense with separate facts and a separate victim who has loved ones who want to see justice," 6th Circuit Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis said.
He said Anthony's Hernando sentence doesn't affect his decision....
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.