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Death penalty sought in slaying

Prosecutors say the fatal stabbing of a 39-year-old Oldsmar woman was particularly heinous and cruel.

Published September 21, 2005

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a Clearwater man charged with stabbing his girlfriend to death in Oldsmar two years ago.

Timothy Permenter, 38, is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2003 death of Karen Pannell, a 39-year-old customer service agent for American Airlines.

Prosecutors say Permenter stabbed her 16 times in her Oldsmar townhome.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office must determine in first-degree murder cases if enough "aggravators" exist to seek the death penalty.

This case qualifies for the death penalty because the killing was particularly heinous and cruel, said Assistant State Attorney Bill Loughery.

In addition, Permenter was on probation at the time of the murder and has a significant criminal record of violence, Loughery said.

Permenter was sentenced in 1991 to 20 years in prison on charges that include attempted first-degree murder, racketeering and kidnapping. He was paroled on Sept. 1, 2002.

Permenter was charged with the murder in May 2004. He denied killing Pannell in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Permenter told Pinellas sheriff's detectives that he left Pannell's townhouse on Oct. 10, 2003, then returned the next day and found her body. But statements from a pizza delivery man and a friend of Permenter's were inconsistent with his account of the night of the murder.

Forensic specialists also found Permenter's DNA in tissue pulled from under Pannell's fingernails. Cell phone tower records also showed Permenter was near Pannell's home that night.

Detectives also said Permenter wrote the name of Pannell's ex-boyfriend in blood on her wall. That man does not live in the area and had an alibi for that night.

A trial date has not been set. A pretrial hearing is set for December.

[Last modified September 21, 2005, 12:37:10]

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