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Son, pal indicted in murder after father speaks to grandjury

In what he described as the "hardest thing I've done in my life," Charles Amos sat in a wheelchair Tuesday and testified against his own son. A Pinellas County grand jury indicted the son and another man on first-degree murder charges in the death Jan. 30 of Amos' wife, Joan. The two men also were charged with attempted murder in Amos' shooting.

"I'm a witness and a spectator. ... It's the greatest tragedy," Amos said later in an interview. "It is in the judicial system's hands now."

Jonathan "Jay" Amos, 26, isaccused of using a handgun to shoot his father several times in the stomach inside the family's sprawling Snell Isle home.

His 19-year-old friend, John DeHate, is accused of attacking Mrs. Amos in her bedroom and slitting her throat.

"If two people help one another commit the crime," prosecutor Nicholas F. Mooney said, "they're guilty of the crimes committed by both."

Amos, a wealthy insurance executive, is offering testimony against a son he said he still loves. If convicted, Jonathan Amos and DeHate could be sentenced to death.

"What should happen?" the elder Amos, still recovering fromgunshot wounds, said in an interview. "I don't feel it's any longer in my hands. ... As far as I'm concerned, both of those people (his wife and son) were the only things I had. What do you do, stop loving one?

"I'm establishing a place for each of them as far as my memory is concerned. They both have their special places. It will not change regardless of the outcome. ... Everything I had was based around those two people."

The indictments earlier in the day came after grand jurors heard from three other witnesses besides Charles Amos: DeHate's girlfriend, Allison Smith; St. Petersburg Police Officer David Klippel; and Detective Brian Stickney.

Police say that DeHate and Jonathan Amos attacked his parents at their home at about midnight. DeHate is accused of stabbing Mrs. Amos in her upstairs bedroom. She was found lying halfway off the bed, a knife nearby.

Downstairs, police say, Jonathan Amos pointed a semiautomatic handgun at his father.

Police say that as Jonathan Amos stood over his father he said, "Well, that'll take care of both of you."

With two bullets in his stomach, Charles Amos, 49, managed to call the 911 emergency telephone number, recounting what had happened inside the house at 300 Raphael Blvd. NE. A neighbor later said that she saw the Amoses' blue Mercedes bolt from the ga-rage and screech down Raphael Boulevard.

Later, after a chase sometimes exceeding 100 mph, Jonathan Amos and DeHate were arrested in Sumter County.

Deputies found a handgun in the grass near the car, blood on the car's exterior and a bloody towel inside. Jonathan Amos and DeHate are being held at the Pinellas County Jail without bail.

Meanwhile, Charles Amos is recuperating and trying to figure out what he calls the "greatest tragedy."

"I've got to completely start a new life at 49 years old," Charles Amos said. "Somehow, I'm going to try and make something constructive out of it."