Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

5 years later, trial begins in Valrico kidnapping case

Trevor Summers was poised to represent himself, but thought better of it just before jury selection began.
Trevor Summers faces a litany of charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping.
Trevor Summers faces a litany of charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 22|Updated Aug. 27

TAMPA — It has been five years since Trevor Summers was accused of kidnapping and trying to kill his wife. Since then, as he has lingered in the Hillsborough County jail, three attorneys appointed to represent him have asked to leave the case, citing disagreements with their client.

Related: UPDATE: Jury delivers guilty verdict in Hillsborough kidnapping trial

A few months ago, Summers decided he could be his own best advocate. With a trial set to start this week, he readied to defend himself.

On Monday morning, he changed his mind.

Unable to secure a postponement and listening as a judge described limits on his ability to consult with a standby lawyer during his self-representation, Summers decided to let a professional take over.

“I think that’s a very wise decision,” said Judge Christopher Sabella.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella, left, talks with Trevor Summers before jury selection in Summers' trial Monday in Tampa.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella, left, talks with Trevor Summers before jury selection in Summers' trial Monday in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Summers, 45, faces a litany of charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping.

Court records describe accusations that for two days in March 2017, Summers held captive his wife, Alisa Summers, tied her to a bed with rope and Christmas lights, and once held a pillow to her face until she briefly lost consciousness. He later took her with him as he drove in an SUV around rural southwest Florida and looked for a marina where he hoped to charter a boat to take them to sea, the records state.

It all happened after Alisa had sought a divorce from her then-husband, with whom she had five children. She had twice sought a protective order against him, once after she accused him of holding her at knifepoint. At the time of the crimes, Trevor Summers was awaiting sentencing for his role in a federal investment fraud scheme in Philadelphia. He still awaits sentencing in that case.

At one point, when he stopped at a Walgreens in south Hillsborough County, Alisa got out of the SUV, her hands still bound, and tried to run away. A bystander saw Trevor Summers place her back in the vehicle and drive off, court records state. Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies began to look for the couple.

They spotted their SUV two days later near a waterfront resort in Ruskin. They followed the vehicle to a home 2 miles away, where Alisa jumped out of the car. Trevor Summers had tried to slash his own neck before his arrest, deputies said. He was jailed after a short hospital stay.

In a search of the car, investigators found what they described as a handwritten confession in which Trevor Summers described cutting his wife’s wrist after she tried to escape.

Also found was a letter he wrote to the couple’s children, according to court records.

“So we have ended it for your sake,” the letter read, according to court records. “We wish you the best in everything you do and will be watching you from heaven.”

Read inspiring stories about ordinary lives

Read inspiring stories about ordinary lives

Subscribe to our free How They Lived newsletter

You’ll get a remembrance of Tampa Bay residents we’ve lost, including heartwarming and amusing details about their lives, every Tuesday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options
Related: Father's note to kids of kidnapped mom: We'll be watching from heaven

Summers on Monday traded his jail garb for a blue-and-white striped dress shirt with a white collar.

He told Judge Sabella there were items of evidence he had trouble accessing from jail. He said there were expert witnesses he wasn’t able to secure. He asked for another delay.

The judge denied a request, noting the case’s lengthy duration.

“What went on in five years that there was no understanding of what evidence the state had?” the judge asked at one point.

The things Summers complained about were among the many disadvantages of going without an attorney, the judge said. Some of the issues he raised had already been considered and denied by other judges.

After a short discussion of the limitations that Summer would have to consult with an attorney during the trial, he decided it was best to let his standby attorney, Anthony Marchese, take over his defense.

Marchese also asked the judge to delay the trial. He said he was hadn’t had time to examine transcripts of prior testimony and fully scrutinize the state’s evidence.

Attorney Anthony Marchese, left, exits the courtroom along with the defendant Trevor Summers, center, during a break Monday in Summer's trial.
Attorney Anthony Marchese, left, exits the courtroom along with the defendant Trevor Summers, center, during a break Monday in Summer's trial. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The lawyer and Summers had previously disagreed about trial strategy, he said.

“I’ve never been so unprepared as I am right now to start picking a jury,” Marchese said.

The judge was unmoved.

State and defense began the process of selecting a jury a little before noon Monday. Opening statements are expected Tuesday. The trial is expected to last through the rest of this week.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge