Natalie Weber - Pinellas Criminal Justice Reporter

Pinellas Criminal Justice Reporter

As the Pinellas County criminal justice reporter, my goal is to inform readers about our local legal system and the major players shaping criminal justice on this side of Tampa Bay. When I’m not puzzling over the perfect lede for my story, you can find me experimenting with a new recipe or with my nose in a book. Have a tip or think there's something we should cover? Don't hesitate to reach out.

  1. James Pagán, 30, walks into a Clearwater courtroom Wednesday in Clearwater. Pagán was convicted of shooting and killing 18-year-old Barbarajean Lombardi and 21-year-old Tommy Dixon on Sept. 16, 2021.
  2. The Capri Mobile Home Park, 24195 U.S. Highway 19 N in Clearwater, is seen in July. Olga Botello, 75, is facing criminal charges after investigators found evidence that she tried to sell property in the Capri park and other Pinellas mobile parks that she did not own.
  3. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office K-9 Corporal Matthew Aitken, 40, was shot three times Sunday night while following a suspect, later identified as Zion Bostick, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department. Pinellas County Sgt. Jake Viano, 49, who was with Aitken at the time and returned fire, shooting and killing Bostick. Aitken was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition.
  4. Vaughn Mongan, 44, crashed a Tesla into a home at 1498 Caird Way, shown above, killing two people and injuring three others on Sept. 3, 2021. This week he pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the crash.
  5. Tyron Jackasal was convicted of second-degree murder and given a life sentence in the killing of 35-year-old Emily Grot in 2021. Jackasal was previously sentenced to life in prison for an unrelated armed robbery.
  6. From left to right: Angella Jackson, Lashantia Brown, Kanisha Altidor and Janorris Johnson were arrested after detectives said they used credit card information from residents in assisted living facilities to make unauthorized purchases.
  7. Olga Botello, 75, faces a charge of scheme to defraud.
  8. St. Petersburg Police are increasing their focus on illegal street racing, following the death of a 13-year-old boy at an event late last month.
  9. Detective Renee McKinney, left, and Detective Somsak A. Intravichit, right, received the 2022 Ned March/Bud Purdy Award from the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg on Friday.
  10. Clearwater Fire & Rescue is investigating after reports that two fire medics incorrectly declared a man dead, delaying his care.
  11. Artist Christopher Williams speaks about his art piece “Liberation” during an opening reception event at the Tully-Levine Gallery on Feb. 11 in St. Petersburg.
  12. David Moore, 18, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Zykiqurio Lofton.
  13. Fred G. Minnis Sr., known as the "dean" of Black attorneys in Pinellas County, was the first full-time Black lawyer in the county and mentored prominent leaders, such as civil rights attorney James Sanderlin and Florida state Sen. Darryl Rouson.
  14. In this 2009 photo, drivers and passengers wait for their turn to receive a citation for watching illegal drag racing on Fourth Street North in St. Petersburg. Police say street racing is an increasing problem. A boy was recently killed during a street racing event and his father was arrested on a child neglect charge.
  15. Estella Maria Bailey, 79, is accused of gaining power of attorney over a woman living at a nursing home and stealing nearly half a million dollars from her.
  16. Deputies conducted 158 traffic stops during a crackdown on street racing Saturday.
  17. A 42-year-old Zephyrhills woman was killed in a collision at a Hillsborough intersection early Sunday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  18. A shooting occurred just before 4 a.m. in the parking lot of the Jet Jackson Recreation Center in St. Petersburg.
  19. A Pinellas deputy has been fired after he was arrested for drunk driving in Tampa.
  20. A shooting happened around 8:30 p.m. Saturday at 6605 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Hillsborough County.
  21. Michael Lapniewski, 55, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday afternoon on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the 1987 slaying of Opal Weil.
  22. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was recognized this week as the 2022 Sheriff of the Year for his contributions to law enforcement nationwide.
  23. A Pinellas detention deputy was arrested Tuesday on a battery charge in Hillsborough County, jail records show.