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Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers Pinellas County government and politics. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (352) 848-1431


Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

  1. U.S. Army vet denied second chance at USF after confrontation with gas station clerk


    TAMPA — Clay Allred says he doesn't recall much about what led to his arrest and expulsion from the University of South Florida last year.

    The former U.S. Army Green Beret said he knows he was reckless and ugly the night he told the Muslim clerk at a Mobil station, "I don't like you people," and then fired his handgun as he drove away.

    "I'm just a guy that became a terrible alcoholic and made a terrible mistake," said Allred, 30....

    Among the items in Allred’s Jeep, police found military gear: a rifle and two pistols, tactical vest and communications equipment. They also found a mask, which Allred says was simply something he bought with a girlfriend.
  2. Trooper shoots person who fled traffic stop in Pinellas Park

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — A Florida Highway Patrol trooper shot an armed suspect who had fled from a traffic stop just after noon Monday, the agency said.

    The trooper, whose name was not released, tried to pull the vehicle over on southbound Interstate 275 at Gandy Boulevard. The vehicle got off the interstate, crashed into two other vehicles on Grand Avenue and turned into an unidentified apartment complex, where the driver and a passenger took off running, FHP said....

    Authorities descended on the scene of a shooting Monday in Pinellas Park. Multiple ambulances were at the scene of the apparent shooting involving a state trooper. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. After break in case, Clearwater woman convicted of husband's 2008 murder


    LARGO — Police always suspected Rebecca Ayn Fenton killed her husband Larry in 2008, but they weren't able to arrest her until last year. Now she's headed to prison for the rest of her life.

    A Pinellas County jury convicted Fenton of first-degree murder. Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone immediately sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Prosecutors told a Pinellas County jury that Fenton, now 48, was financially motivated to kill her husband. A prenuptial agreement signed when the couple married in 2004 would have limited her spousal support if the marriage had been dissolved, but she was the beneficiary of life insurance and other benefits in the event of his death. ...

    Rebecca Ayn Fenton
  4. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri files for reelection


    Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has made his reelection bid official, filing papers Thursday to run for a second four-year term. 

    Gualtieri, 54, told Bay Buzz months ago that he planned to run for reelection. At the time, we were checking in with Republicans who might be interested in running for the Pinellas Congressional seat that Republican David Jolly is leaving to run for U.S. Senate. Gualtieri had been mentioned in 2013 as a possible contender for the seat, then held by U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, but opted not to run in the special election that Jolly eventually won....

  5. Pinellas Trail cameras are working, St. Pete police officer says


    ST. PETERSBURG -- It's been four months since the city of St. Petersburg installed surveillance cameras along a six-block stretch of the Pinellas Trail in Childs Park. 

    The verdict, according to a St. Petersburg police officer who knows the project well: The cameras are working and the city should install more of them along the paved recreational trail.

    "I wish we could have cameras all along the trail,"  said Officer Mitch Detty, who has sat on the Pinellas Trail Security Task Force for two years and has been involved with the camera project since its inception. "Everybody says they feel safer with them and at the same time it seems those who would do bad things are tending to avoid the area."...

    The city of St. Petersburg installed 16 video cameras like these at 43rd Street S along the Pinellas Trail between 43rd and 49th streets.
  6. Pinellas prosecutor Dora Komninos files to run for open county judge seat


    Assistant State Attorney Dora Komninos has twice been on Gov. Rick Scott's short list of potential appointees for open Pinellas judge seats. Now the prosecutor is running for one.

    Komninos, 39, has filed papers to run for the Group 8 county judge seat currently held by Thomas Freeman. Freeman must retire in 2016 because the state constituent requires judges to step down when they turn 70 unless they've already served half their term by their 70th birthday. Freeman is 71 and his term ends Dec. 31 2016....

  7. Notorious Hernando killer dies while on death row


    Manessa Donovan wasn't sure if watching her uncle's execution would bring closure. Now she'll never know.

    John William Kalisz, one of Hernando County's most notorious killers, died Tuesday while on death row at Florida State Prison. He was 61.

    Kalisz fatally shot three people in 2010, including Donovan's mother and a Dixie County sheriff's captain. He wounded Donovan, causing her to lose the fetus she was carrying. ...

    In 2010, John Kalisz shot to death his sister, a sheriff’s captain and another woman.
  8. Pinellas Trail usage up for commuters, tourists

    Local Government

    A new report on the results of a survey conducted last year by the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization offers some insight on who uses the Pinellas Trail, how and why.

    The county surveyed 2,513 users at eight spots along the 47-mile paved trail on Fridays and Saturdays. The northernmost spot was in Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor, the southernmost in downtown St. Petersburg.

    The survey found the average user is male, 50 to 64 and rides his bike for exercise. He uses the trail three to seven times a week and rides between two and 10 miles each time....

  9. New day for Rays? Wheeler-Brown bests Newton for St. Pete City Council


    ST. PETERSBURG — Voter turnout in Tuesday's election was anemic, but it was enough for Mayor Rick Kriseman to clinch City Council support to break a five-year stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Kriseman picked up the critical council vote in the District 7 race, where Lisa Wheeler-Brown beat Will Newton, 58 percent to 42 percent. With 30,286 ballots cast, or 17.3 percent of the city's registered voters, about 4,000 voters were the difference in electing Wheeler-Brown....

    Lisa Wheeler-Brown, right, and City Council member Darden Rice celebrate Wheeler-Brown’s election Tuesday at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg.
  10. Pinellas County is exploring bike share options and wants your feedback


    The city of Tampa's has rolled past the 100,000-mile mark. St. Petersburg's will be up and running soon. Now Pinellas County officials want to get in on the bike share action.

    The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization is studying the idea of bringing bike share to Pinellas and is seeking input from residents and officials in the county's cities. (To fill out a survey yourself, go here Deadline is Nov. 13.) The goal is to have a report to the MPO board by early next year that would outline some options to make it happen, said Rodney Chatman, the MPO's planning manager....

  11. Turnout sparse in St. Petersburg, Seminole elections


    Voters were in short supply across St. Petersburg on Tuesday morning as the polls opened for three City Council races that could determine the future of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    In St. Petersburg and Seminole, which also has city elections, turnout was sparse. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections estimated turnout to be 1.86% at 10 a.m.

     Added to mailed ballots, the overall estimated voter turnout was about 13 percent. That is similar to the turnout in 2011, the last time the city elected council members without a mayor's race on the ballot....

    Celia Martin, 69, arrives to vote at Lake Vista Recreation Center in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. "I'm voting for the people who are not voting. My vote matters, and it is going to help them too," she said. "if you are an American enjoying all the thing our grandfather's fought for, you should vote."
  12. Pinellas denied federal grant funding (again) to complete Pinellas Trail loop


    Bad news for the long-awaited project to transform the 47-mile Pinellas Trail into a 75-mile loop.

    Pinellas County learned late last week that it will not receive a $19.1 million federal grant to connect the trail from its current terminus at John Chesnut Park in East Lake to the San Martin Bridge near Weedon Island in St. Petersburg. 

    The news doused the relatively high hopes of county officials and trail boosters who thought the county had a good chance this time around. It was the fourth time the county has applied for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant....

  13. Many in law enforcement oppose proposed open carry law for guns


    Law enforcement officials around Tampa Bay oppose legislation that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to openly carry firearms.

    The officials shudder at the thought of guns on hips of alcohol-fueled revelers at St. Petersburg's First Friday, spring breakers on Pinellas County beaches and partiers on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. They worry that deputies responding to a conflict won't know criminal from victim. They worry about children getting hold of guns and criminals stealing them....

    Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, testifies during a state redistricting trial in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The League of Women Voters and others challenged the redistricting, saying it violated a 2010 constitutional amendment forbidding political favoritism or incumbent-protection in redrawing the congressional political boundaries. (AP Photo,Tallahassee Democrat, Bill Cotterell, Pool) FLTAL101
  14. Who uses the Pinellas Trail and why? County survey offers some insight


    If someone asked you to describe the typical Pinellas Trail user, what would you say?

    A new county report on the results of a survey conducted last year by the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization offers some insight on who uses the trail, how and why.

    The county surveyed 2,513 users at eight different spots along the 47-mile paved trail on Fridays and Saturdays. The northernmost survey spot was in Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor, the southernmost in downtown St. Petersburg....

  15. No Tax for Tracks leader sparks email blast to Pinellas sheriff for opposition to open carry bill


    Remember Barb Haselden, the outspoken leader of the No Tax for Tracks group that helped defeat the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum?

    Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri does. Gualtieri's email inbox has been flooded with messages this week after Haselden unholstered her prodigious email list to spur people to contact the sheriff and voice their support for a bill that would allow the open carrying of firearms in Florida....