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Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers breaking news and general assignment stories in Hillsborough County. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (813) 226-3374


Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

  1. Riverview man accused of killing his mother has first court appearance



    A Riverview man accused of plotting to kill his mother and carrying out the plan on her birthday had his first appearance in court Wednesday.

    Joshua Carmona, 18, appeared in Hillsborough Circuit Court by video link from the Falkenburg Road jail. Judge Margaret Taylor set a bail hearing for Monday. In the meantime, Taylor told Carmona, he would be held without bail on a first-degree murder charge....

    Joshua Leon Carmona fatally beat 39-year-old Tahirih Lua D'Angelo with a baseball bat then stabbed her in the neck with a butcher knife at the townhouse where they lived, 6916 Hawthorne Trace Lane, according to an arrest report. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Fire destroys century-old, two-story structure in Hyde Park section of Tampa


    TAMPA — Barry and Brandi Andrews had high hopes for the century-old house on South Willow Avenue.

    The couple bought the two-story, wood-framed home in the Hyde Park area earlier this month as an investment property to fix up, perhaps to sell or maybe to live in, Brandi Andrews said.

    "We were going to redo everything it needed," she said. "It was just a nice old house that could be restored to its former glory."...

    A fire destroyed a residence in the Hyde Park area of Tampa early on March 20, 2017. Tampa Fire Rescue crews, responding to a call at the 100 block of S Willow Avenue, found the structure fully engulfed in flames. [TONY MARRERO | Times]
  3. Hillsborough leaders tout shared goal of second chances for juvenile offenders


    TAMPA — For years, Public Defender Julianne Holt has watched in frustration as Hillsborough County continued to saddle juveniles with criminal records for first-time minor offenses.

    Studies have backed up the claim from Holt and others who say the county has lagged behind others in its efforts to keep an arrest from derailing a youngster's future.

    But that's changing, Holt told a meeting of the Tiger Bay Club on Friday. Shared philosophies among the State Attorney's Office and local law enforcement agencies are driving a change that makes Holt optimistic for the first time since she was elected more than two decades ago....

    State Attorney Andrew Warren called for criminal reform.
  4. Tip, forensics work help father fulfill promise to son killed in I-4 hit-and-run


    TAMPA — Kneeling beside his son's granite tombstone in a small-town cemetery in New Jersey, Jose Contreras made a promise.

    Contreras vowed that whoever slammed into 24-year-old Joshua Contreras as he stood beside Interstate 4 one night in January 2015, then left him for dead, would be brought to justice.

    Last week, more than two years later, Jose Contreras' cellphone rang. The Florida Highway Patrol sergeant on the other end had the news he'd been waiting for: The driver suspected in his son's death had been caught....

    Joshua Contreras, 24, died on the side of I-4 on Jan. 27, 2015.
  5. Jewish donors boost fundraising effort after Thonotosassa mosque arson

    Human Interest

    THONOTOSASSA — Scanning through the dollar amounts, feeling thankful for the generosity of strangers, Adeel Karim spotted a pattern.

    The 36-year-old New Tampa jeweler had set up a campaign on LaunchGood, a crowd funding site focused on the Muslim community, on the same day authorities confirmed that a fire at the Daarus Salaam Mosque had been deliberately set. A member of the mosque since it opened in 2012, Karim realized the donations were coming in multiples of $18 and the donor surnames were Jewish....

    A crowd of about 150 people gathered at the Daarus Salaam Mosque in Thonotosassa to show their support  Feb. 24 after an arson fire earlier that day caused smoke and water damage. Religious leaders from around Tampa offered unity and support to the Muslim community. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times]
  6. Investigation continues in case of boy left in hot car in Brandon


    BRANDON — Authorities are still investigating the case of a two-year-old boy who died Tuesday after he was left in a hot SUV for more then five hours.

    Fiorella Vanessa Silva-Tello, 21, left Jacob Manchego locked inside her silver Chevy Equinox at 9 a.m. when she went to work at BFF Kidz day care center, according to the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office. It wasn't until 2:30 p.m., when she walked to her car parked 50 feet away, that she discovered Jacob Manchego unresponsive inside. He died later at Brandon Regional Hospital....

    A display in memory of two-year-old Jacob Manchego hangs outside BFF Kidz day care center Wednesday afternoon. Manchego died Tuesday after his half-sister went to work at the day care center and left him in her car for more than five hours. [Anastasia Dawson]
  7. Rubio is asked to leave Tampa office over disruption from weekly protests


    TAMPA — Vocal crowds of demonstrators making weekly visits to the Tampa office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have gotten the Miami Republican booted from the building.

    The owner of Bridgeport Center, a gleaming, nine-story office center at 5201 Kennedy Blvd., notified Rubio's office on Feb. 1 that it will not renew its lease. The reason: The rallies have become too disruptive to the other tenants and a costly expense for the company, said Jude Williams, president of America's Capital Partners....

Demonstrators gather in front of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's office on West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa on Jan. 31 to protest the recent actions of Donald Trump. The owner of the building, called Bridgeport Center, has asked Rubio's office to leave because the weekly demonstrations are disrupting other tenants.
  8. Husband blamed in double slaying was angry wife left him for woman, lawyer says


    BRANDON — Vincente Fuillerat was already pained by the separation from his wife.

    Then the 53-year-old electronic security consultant found out the woman with whom he'd raised two children during 28 years of marriage was in a relationship with another woman.

    The discovery of Lisa Fuillerat's romance with Samara Routenberg angered him, said Tampa attorney Ralph Fernandez, whose firm represented Vincente Fuillerat during the divorce proceedings. He considered it immoral, Fernandez said....

    Lisa Fuillerat, 51, was a sixth-grade math teacher at Lake Gibson Middle School in Pasco County. Fuillerat and her partner were shot to death by Fuillerat's estranged husband, investigators said. [Polk County School District]
  9. Worshippers relocate after arson fire damages Thonotosassa mosque


    THONOTOSASSA — A call from a security company roused Mazen Bondogji from sleep about 2 a.m. Friday.

    The sprinklers at the Daarus Salaam Mosque had been activated, a company representative told Bondogji, who serves on the mosque's board.

    Bondogji arrived to find firefighters dousing a small fire in front of one of the entrances of the mosque at 15830 Morris Bridge Road.

    Within hours, investigators confirmed the fire had been deliberately set. ...

     Investigators look for clues Friday at Daarus Salaam Mosque after an early morning arson. [JAMES BORCHUCK/Times]
  10. Hillsborough County, driven by 2004 storm season, finishes $36 million safety complex

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Larry Gispert surveyed the cavernous space, taking in the huge video screens and rows of work stations, and thought back to an infamous Florida hurricane season.

    "I could have used this in 2004," said Gispert, who served as Hillsborough County's emergency management director for 14 years.

    That year, when four hurricanes battered Florida, Gispert spent days on end in the county's antiquated emergency operations center in Tampa. It didn't have enough work stations or places to shower and sleep, and the air-conditioning labored but couldn't keep the place cool....

    A burned out Ford Expedition is evidence of a recent exercise at the Hillsborough County's firefighter training center is part of the county's new $36.1 million public safety operations complex on Columbus Drive in Tampa. The  24.5-acre complex is home to an Emergency Operations Center, fire rescue headquarters and 911 dispatch center. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  11. Deputies arrest man in string of Hillsborough convenience store robberies


    TAMPA — Trevor Gipson had just robbed three Hillsborough convenience stores when deputies stopped him for speeding on Wednesday morning, authorities say.

    Then, shortly after the traffic stop, the 20-year-old Valrico man hit yet another store, they said.

    Finally, after a short chase 40 minutes later, he was in custody.

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office released this time line of events leading up to Gipson's arrest:...

    Deputies have charged 20-year-old Trevor Gipson of Valrico with a string of Hillsborough County convenience store robberies. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  12. Lawsuit filed in power-line electrocution of bicyclist on Courtney Campbell


    TAMPA — Early one day last July, Gregory Patterson pedaled his bicycle along the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail as a lethal, downed power line dangled dangerously in his path.

    The 47-year-old officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and father of two young girls came into contact with the energized wire near Whiskey Joe's restaurant and bar about 6:40 a.m., receiving a fatal jolt of electricity, authorities said at the time....

    Tampa police and Tampa Electric Co. workers inspect the bicycle ridden by Gregory Patterson when he was electrocuted by a downed power line while riding on the Courtney Campbell causeway July 13. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  13. Tampa-area cases reflect rise in hit-and-run crashes across Florida


    RUSKIN — Cameron Fuller sat on his parents' porch Tuesday morning, cracking jokes, tugging at his neck brace, and bummed that he's not yet allowed to ride his new bike.

    "I'm so excited to be alive," Cameron said. "I'm so excited I didn't break a bone."

    Cameron was crossing U.S. 41 on his BMX bike on New Year's Eve when he was struck by a sport utility vehicle. The driver, 35-year-old Jorge Soria of Ruskin, kept driving and is still on the run, according to the Florida Highway Patrol....

    Cameron Fuller, 13, at home in Ruskin with parents Natasha Wood and Richard Fuller, can't wait to get back on his new Christmas bike. The boy was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding the bike New Year's Eve, so the Florida Highway Patrol visited his house Tuesday to highlight the rising number of hit and run crashes. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  14. Following tea party playbook, 'Indivisible' tries to nudge Congress away from Trump


    TAMPA — The married couple stood on the sidewalk in front of the gleaming high rise, clutching pink posters as traffic zoomed by on West Kennedy Boulevard.

    It was Valentine's Day, and Andrea Beley and Gaston Naranjo of Tampa had joined about 150 other demonstrators to send a message to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. This day, the group was largely focused on getting Rubio to hold a town hall meeting....

    Fliers declaring U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio "missing," like this one posted in St. Petersburg's Old Northeast neighborhood, reflect a tactic straight out of "The Indivisible Guide," a how-to manual aimed at thwartying President Trump's agenda by targeting members of Congress. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  15. FHP: Family is hiding Ruskin driver wanted in New Year's Eve hit-and-run


    RUSKIN — Jorge Soria crashed into a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle on New's Year Eve and kept driving, authorities say.

    Now, the 35-year-old Ruskin man is in hiding with the help of his family, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

    "They know very well where he is, and they're being elusive," said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesman for the patrol.

    Investigators say Soria was driving a green 2002 Chevrolet Suburban south on U.S. 41 about 7:20 p.m. when he struck Cameron Fuller, who was trying to cross the road south of College Avenue on his black BMX bike. ...

    Jorge Soria, 35, was last seen on Jan. 31, his partner says.