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Suspect awaiting trial kills himself

Gregory A. Korsberg stood near the emergency room entrance of a Hillsborough County hospital Sunday morning and looked bleakly to his future.

He faced trial the next day in Pasco County on charges he tried to hire a hit man to kill his former lover's husband.

Inside his Lincoln Town Car parked nearby, Korsberg left a stack of notes, most addressed to his wife, Sue.

"First, may I say how very sorry I am for hurting you the way I have," he said in a typewritten note. "I wish I had known how much you cared. I must end my life for I can not take prison. Nor do I want to put you or mom and dad thru that."

Then Korsberg assured that no jury would ever convict him. He put a .38-caliber pistol to his head and killed himself, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report said. Korsberg, 47, of Tampa had been free on $100,000 bond as he awaited trial. He was arrested in September after prosecutors said he paid $4,000 to an undercover detective he thought was a hit man.

Prosecutors said Korsberg wanted to have Palm Harbor real estate broker Steven Erickson killed. They said Korsberg was in love with Erickson's wife, Kathy, whom he met after working at the Ericksons' real estate company. Investigators said he hatched a murder-for-hire plot after Erickson discovered the affair.

In his suicide note, Korsberg said he had been planning his death since at least November and was despondent because Erickson would "settle for nothing less than me going to prison." Korsberg said that he had heard horrible tales of prison life while he spent time at the Land O'Lakes jail before making bail.

"I can not live in that de humanizing environment. You have no idea how bad it is. People with AIDS living right in the general population. The stories of fights and rapes and the drugs I heard of while in Land O'Lakes," he wrote.

He instructed his wife, who could not be reached for comment, to have his body cremated and his ashes scattered on the third-base coaching box at the "senior league field in the upper Pinellas complex." Korsberg, who was a volunteer for the Little League, wrote, "Some of the happiest time were spent at the ball field. I pray that some of the people will remember the good I tried to do and not for my big mistake."

In meticulous detail, Korsberg instructed his wife on the things she needed to do after his death, from returning his leased car to disconnecting his pager and Internet account. "You might think about selling the house," he wrote. "Ask between 85,000-89,000 . . . Watch the video Dress Your House for Success. It is on the shelves in the office."

Elsewhere, he told his wife to file a sexual harassment suit for him against Kathy Erickson. "Make their life as rough as they have made ours," Korsberg wrote.

The Ericksons, in an interview Tuesday, said they were saddened by Korsberg's death.

"It's not the ending we had hoped for," Erickson said. "Any time somebody kills himself _ I don't care who it is _ it's sad. It's a horrible, horrible thing."

After hearing portions of the suicide note, Kathy Erickson said, "That's just so sad. I would have preferred that he'd gotten help. This is a very sad ending."

Mrs. Erickson acknowledged to authorities that she and Korsberg, himself a real estate agent, had an affair. But in an interview, Mrs. Erickson said she had broken off the relationship because she loved her husband too much. "We're pulling together and getting stronger every day," she said.

Korsberg, who shot himself near the Town 'N Country Hospital, even attached a note to himself before he died, telling authorities where they could find his car. He also told them about the organ-donor card in his pocket.

Of his decision to shoot himself near the hospital, he wrote, "Tell my wife I did it this way so she would not have to find my body."

Then he wrote one final instruction to his wife.

". . . Please take care of the little kitty. I love her very much and she has been very good to me thru some very tough times."