Jamie Cruz Rodriguez was charged Monday with killing his former girlfriend, Hillsborough sheriff's officials said. Rodriguez, 42, was already in jail on drug-related charges. He now faces first-degree murder. Lisa Martinez, 42, was found dead by her 11-year-old son in their home at 7304 Sunshine Circle on March 29. She had scrapes and bruises on her shoulders, arms, neck and chest, which authorities said were caused by strangulation. The couple had lived together as a family until a week before the homicide, when Martinez kicked Rodriguez out. A day after she died, during routine questioning at the Sheriff's Office, a crack pipe fell out of Rodriguez's pocket. He was arrested on charges of possessing cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was released on $2,500 bail the next day. On May 27, Rodriguez was arrested again, this time for possession of cocaine and grand theft. He has remained in jail since. Authorities said a witness heard the two arguing the night of the attack. DNA evidence also linked Rodriguez to the homicide. Rodriguez worked as a welder for Universal Fabrication Services Inc. in Plant City.
Missing car sought in shooting inquiry
Police are investigating a shooting that occurred in the Big Bayou neighborhood just after midnight Monday. Jeremiah C. Powell, 20, of St. Petersburg was shot several times in the upper torso, police said. Hours before the shooting, Powell had been seen driving a borrowed 1996 black Mitsubishi Galant (Florida tag 207LUD). The car is now missing and police are looking for it as part of the investigation. Powell remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (727) 893-7780.
Man charged in slaying after fight
Hillsborough sheriff's detectives have identified the man they say shot and killed Jeronimo Murilla outside a club Oct. 19. Murilla, 24, and Rodolfo Lopez Robles, 18, were fighting in the parking lot of Club 301 in Thonotosassa about 2:50 a.m., according to sheriff's officials, when Robles pulled a gun and shot Murilla in the upper body. Witnesses identified Robles as the shooter and detectives issued an arrest warrant for second-degree murder Monday. Robles, of 1806 S 78th St., is a member of the Norte 14 gang, detectives said. Anyone with information about Robles' whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200, or Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477.
Tampa man dies after SUV hits him
A 61-year-old man has died after being hit by an SUV early Monday as he walked across a Brandon street. Michael D. Williams was driving westbound on State Road 574 near Williams Road when he drove his 2006 Nissan sport utility vehicle through a green light and struck Carl M. Ghee of Tampa, a Florida Highway Patrol report says. Ghee, who had just come from a Subway restaurant, was propelled 100 feet west and came to rest in the outside right turn lane. He died of his injuries at the scene. The crash remains under investigation.