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'I was blaming my mom for not being there.’ New court records detail murder defendant’s state of mind

Joshua Carmona is accused of beating his mother to death in their Riverview home in 2017. New documents shed light on why the crime may have occurred.
Joshua Leon Carmona is accused in the 2017 fatal beating of his mother, Tahirih Lua D'Angelo. He faces trial in January 2020. [Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
Joshua Leon Carmona is accused in the 2017 fatal beating of his mother, Tahirih Lua D'Angelo. He faces trial in January 2020. [Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
Published Dec. 13, 2019

TAMPA — It has been two years since a bright New York college student was accused of beating his own mother to death with a baseball bat inside their Riverview home. After Joshua Carmona’s arrest, investigators hinted at family troubles, but the exact circumstances that led to the crime remained concealed from public view.

Now, a month before Carmona is set to face trial, a transcript of his interview with two Hillsborough sheriff’s detectives hours after his mother’s death has been made public. In it, the then-18-year-old gives a graphic and chilling description of how he beat his mother to death. He spoke of feelings of anger toward her for abandoning him in his early childhood.

“The main thing was that I was thinking about that led me to do this was I was blaming my mom for not being there,” Carmona told the detectives. “And I, like, I think I just held it in. I hated her for that.”

Related: Sheriff: Riverview son, 18, thought of killing mother then did on her birthday

Tahirih Lua D'Angelo, 39, was found dead in a townhouse on her on March 20, 2017. Her son, 18-year-old Joshua Leon Carmona, faces a charge of first-degree murder in her death. [Photo from Facebook] [PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK | Photo from Facebook]

Carmona was the only son of Tahirih D’Angelo. She was in her early 20s when she had him. His father’s identity is not known, according to court records. The young mother left her son to be raised with his grandmother, Diana Carmona. Joshua Carmona recalled memories of crying in bed at night after his mother’s brief visits.

When his grandmother died in 2009, Joshua Carmona began living with his mother. In 2012, she married Stephen D’Angelo, who was eight years younger than her. They later had a daughter, Carmona’s half-sister.

Speaking with detectives, Carmona mentioned jealousy, seeing his mother raise the girl.

He said he had been seeing a therapist but had held things back in the therapy sessions.

He mentioned taking drugs. In particular, he spoke of problems with marijuana and synthetic marijuana, commonly known as spice. The latter sometimes made him have hallucinations, he said.

Carmona graduated from Jefferson High School in 2016. A school yearbook noted he was “Most Likely to Succeed.”

Pictured is a photo of 18-year-old Joshua Leon Carmona from a 2016 Jefferson High School yearbook in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Carmona is accused of fatally beating his mother, 39-year-old Tahirih Lua D'Angelo, with a baseball bat. [LEIVA, ANDRES | Tampa Bay Times]

He started college at Fordham University in New York City. Although he was a good student, Carmona struggled with depression. About four months before his arrest in Tampa, he drove to rural Pennsylvania in search of a place to commit suicide, according to court records. While there, he was arrested on charges that he assaulted and carjacked a woman.

Later, in February 2017, Carmona was arrested again on a DUI charge after he crashed a car into the back of a semitrailer on the side of a Georgia highway.

He spoke of dreading going back to court in those other states to face what he had done.

Carmona told the detectives he got up the morning of March 20, 2017, with plans to kill his mother and stepfather. At about noon, he told his mother to come look at something near the stairway in their home, then began hitting her with the bat, he said.

After she was dead, he said, he used a kitchen knife to cut her neck. Prosecutors have described the neck wound as consistent with an attempt at decapitation, but Carmona told the detectives it was an effort to ensure she was dead.

He used baking soda to try to clean up blood, he said, then left the house, intending to return later. Carmona picked up his sister at a day care center. He said he planned to take her to his grandfather’s home. But while he was out, he received a notification from a security application on his phone. His grandfather had entered the house and found the body.

Carmona left his sister with a friend. He said he drove north, got as far as Ocala, then headed back to Tampa. By the time he returned to Hillsborough County, Sheriff’s deputies were looking for him.

They spotted him on Interstate 275, where he was pulled over. As he was arrested, Carmona made a spontaneous confession.

“I threw everything away and it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense,” he told the detectives. “I tried to end something that had nothing to do with me. And I tried to end my life because I still couldn’t get over what happened to me as a kid. And I was still blaming and hating the world.”

Court records note that mental health professionals have diagnosed Carmona with severe depression with psychotic features, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Earlier this month, prosecutors asked a judge to prevent Carmona’s defense from using his interview to argue that he was insane at the time of the crime. But in court Friday, a defense attorney said they have no plans to use an insanity defense.

Court records suggest that they will instead argue that the killing occurred in the heat of passion, apparently in an effort to obtain a conviction for a lesser charge of second-degree murder.

In court, Assistant Public Defender Dana Herce-Fulgeira said the state had offered Carmona a deal to plead guilty to second-degree murder for a sentence of 60 years in prison. He rejected the offer.

If convicted as charged, Carmona will face a mandatory term of life in prison without parole.

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