Advertisement
  1. News

Man charged in Brooksville double murder could face death penalty

Khristian Donyell Francis [Photo courtesy of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office]
Published Apr. 11, 2018

BROOKSVILLE — State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case of a man charged with stabbing and shooting a mother and her teenage daughter to death during a January home invasion, Hernando County court records show.

Khristian Donyell Francis, a 24-year-old transient of Brooksville, faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, home invasion robbery while armed, burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will appear again in court in June.

A case filing prepared by District 5 Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino, prosecutor on the Francis case, details the crime scene Hernando County sheriff's deputies arrived to find at 27378 Azen Loop on the night of Jan. 23, as well as the investigation that followed.

Blood was splattered on the steps outside. A bullet-hole marked a window frame. Adolphus Washington, a resident of the home, was outside — on his hands and knees, covered in blood. He had gunshot wounds in four places: the jaw, neck, stomach and back, court records said.

"Christian [sic] shot me," said Washington, 36, as a deputy approached him.

Inside the home, Washington's significant other, Taneta Morrell, was found in a bedroom, at the base of a dresser. Blood soaked the carpet around her, records show. Morrell's 16-year-old daughter, Brene Marshall, was facedown on the living room floor. Blood covered the white tile beneath her breathless body, clothed in a flowered dress.

"The female had several puncture wounds consistent with stab wounds in her left oblique area as well as a deep wound in her neck just behind the left ear," a Sheriff's Office report said of Morrell, 40.

Soon, the colored lights of patrol vehicles flooded the Hill n' Dale neighborhood, east of downtown Brooksville. Neighbors Dillard and Evette Hill, who were first to arrive on scene, told deputies they saw a man in a black hoodie run from the house.

The sheriff's helicopter and police dogs began tracking the man as he ran west through the neighborhood and broke into a vacant rental home at 27199 Thorncrest Ave., about an eighth of a mile away. SWAT deputies found Francis inside the dryer in the laundry room and later located some of his belongings in the attic and inside a shed in the backyard.

Court records show that minutes before the shooting, Morrell and Marshall saw Francis at a liquor store near the neighborhood. Washington told investigators that when Morrell arrived home, she told him a man, later identified as Francis, had asked "Where your old man at?" and "Your old man home?"

About five minutes later, Washington later told deputies, Francis knocked on the door. When Washington opened it, Francis shot him and trudged inside.

A few days after the shooting, Washington told an investigator he had known Francis for about a year. They didn't talk much, he said, but were friendly.

Sometimes, Francis' little sisters would swim in Washington's pool, and on a couple of occasions, Francis joined a football betting game Washington organized. Washington often spent time with Francis' father, Jeffrey Jackson, who also lives in the neighborhood. Washington told deputies that his and Jackson's families both have ties to Alabama.

When asked if he and Francis had any unfinished business between them, Washington told investigators he once loaned Francis $20-worth of marijuana, but later told him not to worry about paying him back. The two men didn't have any problems, Washington said.

"He believes that his family (was) an easy target and (Francis) was desperate," a Sheriff's Office report said.

When contacted by the Tampa Bay Times last week, Jackson, said it is "shocking" to see his son connected to such a horrific crime. He declined to make specific comments on the case.

"Those are serious allegations ... the worst of the worst that you could get," said Jackson, who said he is a former law enforcement officer. "I can't say anything that is going to jeopardize my son, myself or my family."

After the shooting, Jackson told investigators he urged his son many times to turn himself in to the Sheriff's Office because of the multiple warrants out for his arrest. He said Francis stopped by his house — at 6371 Dakota Drive, not far from the shooting site or where Francis was found — with a loaded gun about four hours before the shooting.

When Jackson started getting calls that night about what happened down the street on Azen Loop, he told investigators, he "had a feeling" Francis might be involved.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show Francis was arrested as an 18-year-old in 2012 for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The next year, he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, a third-degree felony, but the charge was later dropped, records show. In 2014, Francis was convicted of unarmed burglary and grand theft, both felonies.

In 2016, records show, he was arrested twice for violation of probation, felony unarmed burglary, misdemeanor battery, resisting an officer and possession of a weapon by a felon, but was never convicted.

Francis' attorney, Jamie Kane of the Hernando County Public Defender's Office, could not be reached for comment. Francis remains at Hernando County Detention Center without bail. He will appear before Judge Daniel Merritt on June 12 at 1 p.m. at the Hernando County Courthouse, 20 N. Main St.

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

>>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE:>'Tomorrow is not promised,' loved ones say at Brooksville teen's birthday party turned vigil

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, accused of stabbing and killing John Travlos and Germana Morin aboard their houseboat in 2013, testified on his own behalf at his murder trial in Pinellas County this week. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    It took the jury about four hours to find Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria guilty. Next they must decide whether to send him to Florida’s death row.
  2. Harold Fritz, 75, was awarded the nation's highest and rarest honor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in 1969. The Army lieutenant saved his platoon during an ambush in the Vietnam war. He spoke to students at Farnell Middle School in Tampa. MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times
    Harold Fritz wanted to talk about teachers’ salaries and education. The kids wanted selfies with one of the 71 living recipients of the nation’s highest honor.
  3. PDQ's new Trinity location features a self-serve sauce bar with seven signature sauces perfect for dipping chicken tenders. Courtesy of PDQ
    Both chains are expanding locally and held grand opening celebrations this month with giveaways and free food.
  4. Casey Cane has resigned as chair of Pinellas County’s Housing Finance Authority in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times story about his failure to disclose an arrest for a financial felony when he was 19. He also serves as a Palm Harbor fire commissioner. Casey Cane
    Casey Cane failed to disclose his arrest for a financial felony in 2006. He said he didn’t think he had to reveal that information.
  5. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks to about 75 people Tuesday at a city conference on innovation and collaboration. (City of Tampa photo by Janelle McGregor) Janelle McGregor
    City Hall brought together startups and the nonprofits that nurture them for a discussion of possible ideas to improve city operations and service.
  6. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView, use ground-penetrating radar to scan a portion of King High School campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Preliminary answers from the ground-penetrating radar could come as soon as next week.
  7. A federal judge gas stayed the Nov. 7 execution of death row inmate James Dailey, 73, for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row. Tampa Bay Times
    Dailey was set to be put to death Nov. 7. A judge ordered his execution to be postponed to give his attorneys time to present their claims. But the state can appeal.
  8. Markeith Loyd, suspected of fatally shooting a Florida police officer, attends his initial court appearance Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, at the Orange County Jail, in Orlando, Fla. Loyd spoke out of turn and was defiant during the appearance on charges of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend. He was injured during his arrest Tuesday night following a weeklong manhunt.
    The same jury found Loyd guilty last week of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting 24-year-old Sade Dixon outside her home in 2016.
  9. The new owner of a dilapidated mobile home park on Gandy Boulevard has sued the city of Tampa over a record-setting fine levied against the property for a massive tree removal in August. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
    A Gandy Boulevard mobile home park owner is suing the city of Tampa over a record $420,000 fine .
  10. Dashboard camera video shows a Tampa police cruiser pursuing Dusharn Weems through a parking lot. A second later, Weems is fatally injured when the car strikes him. Courtesy Haydee Oropesa
    The family of Dusharn Weems, 23, claims an officer intentionally struck him after he was spotted driving a stolen car.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement