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Slaying of kindly 'godfather' mystifies neighbors

The community is struggling to understand why Luther B. Gadsden was stabbed to death, allegedly by his nephew, Wednesday.

By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published June 8, 2006


TAMPA - When Luther B. Gadsden walked the streets of Englewood Heights in east Tampa, people respected him.

"We called him the godfather of the neighborhood," said Gregory Law, 43, a longtime friend and next-door neighbor.

The community is struggling to understand why Gadsden, 50, was stabbed to death, allegedly by his nephew, Wednesday morning in the carport of their home at 2913 E Cayuga St.

Police said Karlton Matthews Carter, 26, told them he used a kitchen knife to stab his uncle several times. When officers arrived, they found Carter pacing the street in front of the house, Lt. Craig Roberts said.

He didn't try to hide anything. Carter gave police his name, then led them across the street to a palm tree where he had put the bloodied knife.

Carter was charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bail at the Orient Road Jail.

Carter's criminal record in Florida dates to 1995, and includes charges of larceny, domestic violence, cruelty toward a child and battery on a pregnant woman.

Gadsden and Carter had argued Tuesday night over the volume of the television, Roberts said.

Wednesday morning, Roberts said, Gadsden went out to breakfast with a friend, and when he returned home about 9:30 a.m., Carter met him at the door with the knife.

Gadsden's friend, Yvonne Muqaddam, 44, heard him scream and turned to see Carter stabbing him before asking someone to dial 911.

Carter had a history of mental illness and had been in and out of institutions, said his brother, Stephen Carter, 33.

Maggie Hunter, 49, lived near Gadsden for more than eight years. But she said she never knew he had a nephew.

"He never fussed," Hunter said. "What could come to this that you get stabbed?"

Earl Grace, 64, said he had known Gadsden for more than 30 years. He remembered him as being "one of the boys" in the neighborhood who grew up to be a cornerstone of the community.

"I don't care what time of night it was, you could knock on L.B.'s door and ask him to take you somewhere, and he would," said Law, the next-door neighbor.

Gadsden taught Law to drive. When Law went on his first date, Gadsden gave him his car, Law said.

"He doesn't even have to know you. If he's got it, he'll give it to you," Law said. "He was just like family to me."

Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 8, 2006, 06:58:34]


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