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Web site, dinner are lights in darkness

Published May 7, 2004

As head of his own business consulting firm, Rolando Pozo frequently puts together Web sites for his clients and finds the work satisfying.

But his latest project was a different kind of labor of love.

His brother-in-law, James Robert Burton, was killed in a traffic accident last September. Authorities charged Carlos Giddings with vehicular homicide. When Giddings' day in court came, he didn't show. Now Pozo is doing more than just waiting for investigators to track him down.

With Pozo has crafted a site aimed at helping locate the suspect, who was also charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, possession of cocaine and driving with a suspended license in a case involving death.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Burton was riding a 2001 Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Interstate 4 when he was rear-ended by Giddings, a 21-year-old Clearwater man who was speeding in a 2001 Pontiac. The impact threw Burton from the motorcycle and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Giddings lost control of his car and slid onto the shoulder of the road. He left the scene but was arrested on I-4 after his car became disabled, investigators reported.

When Giddings failed to appear for a pretrial hearing on April 27 and the trial on Monday, Pozo went to work on the Web site. It has several pictures of Giddings, physical descriptions, photos of people who might know his whereabouts and news accounts of the accident.

It also has a contact page for people to relay tips.

"I'm bad at telling stories and remembering details," Pozo said. "So I wanted one place where everyone could look and have a chance to see his face and find the guy. I wanted to gather all the information, put it in one spot and point everybody to it.

"It was a tragic way for Jim to die and it would be terrible if nothing ever happened to the man responsible."

The Web site also has a link to a second site dedicated to the memory of Burton, who was 45 at the time of the accident. An employee in the Tampa water department, Burton was survived by his wife Tammy and two daughters.

Pozo described Burton as the kind of guy who would do anything to help someone, and an overflow crowd at his funeral service at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church seemed to indicate a lot of people agreed.

"I hope to God my funeral is like his," Pozo said. "You couldn't have fit any more people into the church. Jim was one of the greatest I've ever known."

THE CHILDREN OF slain Temple Terrace mother Maria Luperon continue to get an outpouring of support. On Saturday, Clubhouse Sports Cafe at 5611 E Fowler Ave. will give a portion of its proceeds to the Luperon Children's Future Fund.

The Temple Terrace Little League is asking all teams to have their season-ending parties at the Clubhouse on Saturday. Team moms can confirm appearances by calling Jackie Weil at (813) 985-8999.

Luperon was found slain in her car outside the Temple Terrace post office March 16, and her two minor sons are now living with their older brother, who is in his 20s. Police have made no arrests in the shooting of the divorced woman and have not identified any suspects.

Temple Terrace Deputy Chief Patricia Powers said anyone with information can call the Police Department at (813) 989-7110 or Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-813-8477.

In both of these instances, we have people who have taken negative frustrations and channeled them into positive efforts.

I think there's a lesson in there for all of us.

That's all I'm saying.

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 813 226-3406 or

[Last modified May 7, 2004, 01:03:18]

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