NEW PORT RICHEY — It passes quickly. Too quickly, if you ask Circuit Judge Stanley Mills.
"It's been real fast," the judge said. "Just like lightning."
Mills, 67, will retire in December. In 1989, if you'd have asked him if there was an end in sight, he would have laughed. The future was endless, boundless. Now? It's "terrifyingly close."
Time goes by so quickly.
So here he sits. A headlights-on-billboard-type smile, short Santa Claus-shaded white hair to match a dress shirt and the American Constitution on his tie. He's direct — smooth and measured....
10/15/14 Public Safety
The inmates who clean the cages at the animal shelter wear black galoshes, for obvious reasons. They don't work up front, in the cozy reception area. They show up early, herded by a man with a gun, and get to work behind a door that reads "Don't enter."
They show up in striped cotton jailhouse uniforms. Many have tattoos. Mostly they are nonviolent offenders and low-level felons. ...
DADE CITY — A judge will allow Curtis Reeves' defense team to visit the Wesley Chapel movie theater where he is accused of shooting and killing a man in January.
On Wednesday morning, attorneys for Reeves, 72, asked Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa for access to the Cobb Grove 16 Theatres to take photos, videos and measurements.
Assistant State Attorney Bill Loughery raised objections about what the defense team might do once they were in the theater — namely, a re-enactment of events that could influence potential jurors. He asked if a representative from his office could be present. Siracusa denied that request. ...
10/01/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Eugene Foy and Louise Gritmon, a couple from New York, bought a house on Saltamonte Drive a few months ago. They wanted to move closer to family and start a new chapter in their lives.
Part of the welcome they got from Pasco County: a bill stating they had used 600,000 gallons of water at a cost of $3,258.56.
"That's enough to fill 60 swimming pools," Gritmon, an accountant, said. "We obviously knew this was wrong."...
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....
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....
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."...
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....
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."...
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....
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....
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....
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....
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." ...
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....