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Jury to be picked in murder trial

The first-degree murder trial, set to begin in New Port Richey this week, will be the first in west Pasco County in nearly two years.

By CARY DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 2001


Edward Luck didn't seem like the type of person someone would want to kill.

His friends described the 20-year-old as mellow and passive, the sort of fellow who went out of his way to avoid trouble.

"Eddie was a very innocent, helpless person," one of Luck's friends, Michelle Cairo, said in a deposition.

Luck's easygoing nature won him a lot of friends. His indebtedness to one of those friends led to his murder, prosecutors say.

Luck's accused killer, 22-year-old Steven Collazo, is scheduled to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge this week in a New Port Richey courtroom.

Prosecutors say Collazo killed Luck in March 1999 in a Shady Hills home over a $250 debt.

According to court documents, Collazo admitted shooting Luck once in the head with a .380-caliber blue steel pistol Collazo took from his father.

Pasco Sheriff's Office Detective Jeff Bosquet, in a deposition last year, said Collazo told him: "I went up there. I had the gun. I was going to ask him about the money. I went to the bathroom. I came back. He said he wasn't going to pay me. I got angry, and I shot a round."

Added Bosquet: "He said he saw him go down, and (he) picked up the shell casing and left."

Collazo faces life in prison if he is convicted. Jury selection is scheduled to begin this morning.

It will be the first murder trial in west Pasco since Vincent Rizzi was convicted in June 1999 of killing his girlfriend, 26-year-old Tanya Hillerud. The last murder trial in the county took place in February 2000 in Dade City and ended with Sylvia Maraman being convicted of killing her elderly neighbor, Arthur Danner.

For a period of about two months before Luck's death, he and Collazo were "joined at the hip," according to one deposition. Luck was out of work and broke, so Collazo spotted him money for nights on the town, cigarettes and drugs, friends told authorities.

But as the debt grew, Collazo started to resent Luck, friends said. A dispute over a woman only made matters worse. Luck planned to move in with the woman, who had dated Collazo. Friends said Collazo tried to turn the woman against Luck by complaining to her about the debt.

On March 24, 1999, Collazo went to the Waxweed Avenue home where Luck was staying. The subject of money came up as the two smoked cigarettes in Luck's bedroom, Collazo told detectives.

At some point, Luck called Louis Lenney, whose parents owned the Waxweed Avenue home. Lenney told authorities that he ordered Luck to kick Collazo out of the house.

"I told him he should kick Steve's a--" because of the dispute over the woman, Lenney said in a deposition.

When Lenney got home, he found his friend in a pool of blood.

"I felt, you know, real bad when I actually got home and seen (what happened to Luck)," Lenney said. "I was like, 'What did I do? What if I said something that pushed (Luck) to, you know, say something to Steve and then, you know, Steve, you know, flipped out?' "

Collazo's attorneys, Rob Hoskins and Manuel Penton, did not return a message seeking comment for this story.

Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis, who is prosecuting Collazo, declined to comment.

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