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Teen's murder trial postponed

The first-degree murder trial of former Gaither student Shawn Galloway has been postponed until Jan. 26.

The trial had been scheduled to begin Monday.

Galloway's attorney, Richard Escobar, is waiting on some blood and fingerprint evidence to arrive in his office from law enforcement labs. He says that the evidence has not yet been tested by the prosecution and that he has hired two forensic experts to analyze the material.

"We are eager to find out those results," he said.

Galloway, 17, is the last of three teenagers charged in the slaying of Michael Dwayne Jones, 39, of Northdale who was found face down in a HARTline bus stop on N Dale Mabry Highway Jan. 25 with seven stab wounds.

Within days, three teens were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Detectives said the motive for the attack was robbery. According to police, Jones apparently had been partying in the woods off Copperfield Drive in residential North Lakes with several north Tampa teens, some of whom had been using LSD.

Since then, James Thomas Hall of Oakmanor Drive and Thomas C. Southers of Woodpine Drive have made plea bargains with prosecutors, who contend Galloway wielded the knife in the attack. All three were 17 at the time of the attack.

Hall pleaded guilty to manslaughter and faces seven years in prison followed by five years' probation. Prosecutors say he held Jones but let go when Galloway started stabbing.

Southers pleaded guilty to armed robbery and tampering with evidence. He faces three years in prison and three years' probation.

Hall and Southers will be formally sentenced after Galloway's trial, at which they are expected to testify.

Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Galloway.

_ Babita Persaud