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. Pasco shelter director speaks out on behalf of immigrants

    Nation

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Rochelle Tatrai-Ray has heard the complaints about the young immigrants being housed in her Pasco County shelter.

    That they are illegal immigrants with no business being in the United States. That they harbor communicable diseases. That they need to be sent back to their homes in Central and South America, and quickly.

    Those things are just not true, said Tatrai-Ray, CEO of Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, which runs a 16-bed shelter here housing a handful of the refugees sparking national controversy....

  2. Holiday man serving 20-year sentence wins new trial

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — One night 10 years ago, J.J. Daiak stood in his dark living room with a hurricane howling outside and a .357-caliber magnum in his hand. Hearing voices and thinking looters were about to break in, he fired two shots, hitting a sofa and a wall.

    But the voices outside his front door weren't looters. They were Pasco County deputies. Daiak was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. He got 20 years. ...

    J.J. Daiak appears before Circuit Judge William Webb in New Port Richey on Thursday morning to set a trial date.
  3. Curtis Reeves will testify in movie theater shooting trial, attorney says

    Criminal

    The attorney for Curtis Reeves Jr., accused in a Pasco movie theater shooting in January, said his client will take the stand when he faces trial on a second-degree murder charge.

    In addition, Tampa attorney Richard Escobar said he plans to interview Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and possibly call him as a witness.

    The reasoning: If Nocco's deputies can justifiably shoot and kill an unarmed suspect who threatened them during an undercover drug buy, as happened this month in Zephyrhills, why shouldn't Reeves be able to do the same?...

    Curtis Reeves Jr. is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 13 shooting of a 43-year-old man in a movie theater dispute.
  4. Pasco shelter seeks expansion to handle more kids coming across border illegally

    News

    In the midst of a swirling national debate about undocumented immigrant children crossing illegally into the United States, a federally funded shelter in Pasco County is housing boys from Central and South America and asking the county to double its capacity to accommodate more.

    The children, according to the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services shelter in Holiday off of U.S. 19, are between the ages of 8 and 18. The program is paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement....

  5. State attorney: Pasco deputy justified in fatal shooting

    Crime

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco sheriff's deputy was justified in the fatal shooting of a man who fired at deputies after setting fire to a car dealership, an investigation by the Pasco Pinellas State Attorney's Office determined.

    In a letter to Sheriff Chris Nocco on Thursday, State Attorney Bernie McCabe wrote that Patrick Tillery's death May 15 was the result of being shot by Sgt. Jeremy Colhouer "while in the performance of his legal duty and that the shooting was justifiable homicide."...

  6. PHSC responds to allegations about testing, instruction problems

    College

    Pasco-Hernando State College acknowledged some problems at its law enforcement academy brought to light by a whistle-blower, including an allegation about incorrect scoring on firearms tests.

    However, in a response to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday, the college said other allegations were relatively minor, quickly corrected and had a lot to do with turnover.

    The college identified the complaining employee as Patricia Maxwell in its letter....

  7. Mistrial declared after Pasco murder defendant attempts suicide

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A judge declared a mistrial in a first-degree murder case Thursday morning after the defendant attempted suicide at the Pasco County jail, officials said.

    Theodore Diller, 70, who was accused of shooting his wife in 2012, was being escorted to the showers at the detention center in Land O'Lakes about 4:20 a.m. He sprinted away from guards, ran up a flight of stairs and sat on the railing, according to an incident report....

    Theodore Diller and his wife were in the midst of a divorce when he killed her, authorities say.
  8. Land O'Lakes man claims he was insane when he shot wife

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — It's not a whodunit. Attorneys on both sides agree that Theodore Diller, 70, killed his wife on Feb. 22, 2012, with two shots from a .357-caliber revolver. He covered her with a blanket and then took a lot of pills.

    "I popped her once. I popped her again to make sure," prosecutor Eva Vergos said Tuesday during opening arguments in Diller's murder trial, repeating Diller's confession. "I took something that was almost a societal beast, a disease, off the market."...

    Theodore Diller, 70, admits to shooting his wife Rhonda.
  9. John Henry, Pasco man who killed wife, boy, is executed

    Courts

    STARKE — More than 25 years after her aunt and cousin were brutally murdered by John Ruthell Henry, Selena Geiger finally felt peace.

    "I actually feel good. I don't feel sorry for him," she said, after witnessing Henry's execution by lethal injection. "I wish it could've been different. I wish he could've died the way he killed them."

    The state of Florida executed Henry, 63, for the 1985 murder of his wife Suzanne Henry — Geiger's aunt — at the Florida State Prison on Wednesday night....

    John R. Henry committed two murders in 1985 and one in 1976.
  10. John Henry scheduled for execution at 6 p.m. Wednesday

    Criminal

    A federal appeals court has rejected a bid to delay the execution of John Ruthell Henry, who is scheduled to be executed at 6 tonight at the Florida State Prison in Raiford.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta issued an opinion late Tuesday, said capital cases clerk Jan Camp. Only the U.S. Supreme Court could now delay Henry's execution, Camp added.

    Henry was sentenced to death for murdering his wife in Zephyrhills in 1985....

    John Ruthell Henry has one final pending appeal, filed over the weekend in federal court, requesting a stay of his execution. [Photo from Florida DOC website]
  11. Pasco dentist reopens office after several allegations are dropped

    Health

    SPRING HILL — A dentist whose license was suspended last month after allegations of Medicaid fraud and pulling patients' healthy teeth is back in practice.

    An administrative law judge dismissed several charges related to unacceptable standards in operating her office and an appeals court granted a stay of the license suspension, allowing Miranda Smith to reopen her practice on June 9....

    Dentist Miranda Smith still faces a criminal case.
  12. Man stuck with ill-fitting dentures after dentist's arrest on Medicaid fraud charges

    Health

    HUDSON — In December, 72-year-old James Reynolds had all his teeth pulled out on the advice of Miranda Smith, a Spring Hill dentist recently arrested on fraud charges.

    When he went for his dentures, they didn't even fit. When he wore them, they hurt. He went back "half a dozen" times, he said, but didn't get relief.

    He found out about Smith's arrest on TV.

    What about my dentures? he thought. ...

    James Reynolds, 72, says the dentures he got from a dentist who was arrested on charges of Medicaid fraud can’t be worn while he’s eating. He has been consuming mushy foods only.
  13. Florida Supreme Court denies appeal from Pasco man on death row

    Criminal

    The Florida Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a Pasco killer Thursday, just days before he is set to be executed.

    John Ruthell Henry, who has been on death row for 27 years, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday. His attorney filed a last-minute appeal on the grounds that Henry, 63, is intellectually disabled. The motion came in response to a recent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying Florida has been misinterpreting the standard for calling a person mentally disabled. The state has considered anyone with an IQ of 70 or below mentally disabled but did not consider other potential evidence of disability as well as the margin of error in IQ tests, the court said....

    John Ruthell Henry talks with his attorneys during his trial in Dade City in 1991 for the murder of his wife, Suzanne Henry.
  14. Lawyer: Killer is mentally disabled, therefore should not be executed

    Criminal

    On May 2, Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant for a Pasco County man who brutally killed a girlfriend, a wife and a stepson.

    John Ruthell Henry, 63, is set to be executed Wednesday for his wife's murder after 27 years on death row. Baya Harrison has represented him for 14 years.

    "I've been trying to help this guy unsuccessfully for a long time," Harrison said. "Now it's starting to get bad; we've run out of appeals."...

    The fate of John Henry, to be put to death in days, rests with the Florida Supreme Court.
  15. Gang member will cover tattoos with makeup in Pasco murder trial

    Criminal

    A judge will allow a gang member to cover his tattoos during his murder trial next week.

    James "Pimpin' " Barron, 24, is charged with killing Bloods street gang member Kamar Allen on Aug. 21, 2011.

    Barron's lawyer, Bjorn E. Brunvand, argued that the tattoos could prejudice jurors, who are only supposed to consider the facts in the case. Barron's tattoos include a teardrop under one of his eyes, a large neck tattoo, "727" on one arm and "pimpin" on the other, as well as dollar signs on each of his eyelids....

    James Barron, 24, has several tattoos, including a teardrop beneath one eye.