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Jealousy suspected in killing

A Port Richey man, 21, dies after encountering the boyfriend of a 15-year-old girl at her apartment. The boyfriend is in jail.

Published December 14, 2005

[Times photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes]
Patrick Riesenberg's friends, from left, Luis Diaz, Charles Pettit, Kurtis Pettit, Kelli Kemper and others put up a memorial cross Tuesday afternoon at the site where Riesenberg was shot and killed Monday night at Cypress Trail Apartments in New Port Richey. Authorities say 18-year-old Joshua David Huba has admitted to taking a .38-caliber pistol from his waistband, cocking it, hitting Riesenberg with it and shooting him in the back of the head. Kurtis Pettit said he came running up just afterward. His friend was already dead.

NEW PORT RICHEY - Friends of a 21-year-old Port Richey man planted a wooden cross Tuesday where he was shot to death the day before.

A young man accused of pulling the trigger sat in jail.

And a girl whose attention might have sparked the shooting grieved for them both.

"They were both really good people," 15-year-old Denise Roberts said. "It was just a mistake. A bad mistake, but a mistake."

She told her story Tuesday to a reporter, as her mother looked on intheir home in Cypress Trail Apartments.

Monday afternoon, Roberts said, she was hanging out with two of her friends, Kurtis Pettit and Patrick Riesenberg. Her mother wasn't home from work yet.

Pettit, 19, also lives in Cypress Trail. He left for his family's apartment shortly after 6 p.m., Roberts said, and she got in the shower. Riesenberg stayed on her couch, she said, drinking a beer.

As Pettit headed home, he passed Roberts' boyfriend. Pettit dialed Roberts to let her know.

By the time she emerged from the shower, Roberts said, Riesenberg lay on the sidewalk near her front door, no shirt on, blood gushing from his head.

She ran to him and cradled his head from the ground.

Authorities say her boyfriend, 18-year-old Joshua David Huba, later admitted to taking a .38-caliber pistol from his wasteband, cocking it, hitting Riesenberg with it and shooting him in the back of the head.

Roberts said she doesn't think her boyfriend meant to kill anyone.

"I don't think he actually meant to shoot him," she said. "I think he meant to scare him."

A witness listed on Huba's arrest report told a detective the gun fired as Huba hit Riesenberg in the head with it. The witness apparently was one of several friends authorities say accompanied Huba to Roberts' home.

Roberts said her boyfriend's jealously was unwarranted, but that she understood how it looked.

"I would think the same thing if I found a girl at his house without a shirt on," she said. "I'd be pretty pissed too. But I wouldn't shoot her.

"I'd probably shoot him, though."

Her mother reminded her that she didn't have to tell a reporter anything she didn't want to.

Pettitwas not as sympathetic toward the man accused of killing his friend.

"He needs to be where he's at," said Pettit, meaning the county jail, where Huba was being held Tuesday without bail. Pettit said he, Roberts and Riesenberg had only been hanging out Monday.

When he saw Roberts' boyfriend, he said, "I called her and tried to warn them, and then Pat ran outside."

Pettit said nothing was going on inside, and that if he'd been there to explain that to Huba, "Everything would have been fine."

"Pat just didn't even get to say anything." Pettit said. "He just walked out and got shot."

Pettit said he came running up just afterward. His friend was already dead.

He remembers Riesenberg as a fun, easygoing guy who loved his motorcycle and was engaged to be married.

Riesenberg and Huba had never met, Pettit said.

State records show Huba was arrested twice last year: once on a charge of assault and once on battery.

He is the son of Rev. Mark T. Huba, who is pastor at the Upper Room Apostolic Church in New Port Richey.

"We are devastated by this," his father said Tuesday, "and our sympathies go with the family of the young man who died."

[Last modified December 14, 2005, 00:15:15]

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