Retrial of man charged with murder of father begins in Hernando

Stephen Horne is accused of fatally shooting his father, and stealing drugs and cash.
Stephen Horne is accused of fatally shooting his father, and stealing drugs and cash.
Published July 29, 2014

BROOKSVILLE — For the next couple of days, Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino is expected to cover some familiar territory during the retrial of Stephen Horne.

Many of the same witnesses will be called, and jurors will see most of the same evidence presented three years ago when Horne was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder and armed robbery of his 47-year-old father, Ivan Horne.

What Magrino won't have in his arsenal of evidence is video footage of Stephen Horne, 23, calmly describing to a detective how he shot his father in the back with a short-barreled shotgun, then shot him three more times as he lay dying outside a vacant Ridge Manor home in May 2010. Authorities said Stephen Horne and an accomplice took a quantity of oxycodone pills and cash from Ivan Horne's pockets.

In December, the 5th District Court of Appeal reversed Stephen Horne's conviction after finding that Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Sr., who presided over the initial trial, should have granted a motion to suppress Horne's confession because he had told detectives at one point during the interview, "I'm done talking."

At that point, the court ruled, sheriff's detectives violated Horne's right to remain silent by continuing to interrogate him.

In Monday's retrial in Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner's courtroom, Horne sat passively while his attorney, Edwin Mills, unsuccessfully sought to exclude testimony from the accomplice in the killing, Angel Gonzalez, 31, saying that information provided by his client to investigators as to Gonzalez's whereabouts on the night of the murder violated Fifth Amendment protocol.

In his opening statement, Magrino told the six jurors that the evidence and witnesses will support his contention that Horne and Gonzalez set out to kill the elder Horne when they went to pick him up from his home in Tampa the night of May 3, 2010.

With Gonzalez driving, Ivan Horne sat in the passenger seat, with his son, holding a shotgun, in back. Less than an hour later, they arrived at a residence on Otter Drive in Ridge in a remote section of Ridge Manor Estates, not far from Stephen Horne's home on Broken Stone Street.

The suspects then followed Ivan Horne toward the back of the house, where Stephen Horne killed his father, according to authorities. After, the two men stripped the victim of his boots, trousers and took his cellphone before burying his clothes, authorities said.

Gonzalez was found guilty last August of first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm and sentenced to life in prison. He is expected to testify for the state. Mills hinted to jurors that his client may choose take the witness stand in his own defense.

The trial continues today and is expected to conclude later this week.