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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2001


Three men rob supermarket

ST. PETERSBURG -- A Winn-Dixie was robbed Friday morning by three men, one of whom showed a revolver, police said.

The three robbers -- a white man, a black man and a Hispanic man -- walked up to the customer service counter at the supermarket, 2020 34th St. N, about 11:20 a.m. The first man told a clerk that he wanted to return an item. The second man lifted his shirt to reveal a gun tucked into his waistband. The third man walked behind the counter and filled a bag with money, police said.

The three drove off in a stolen black Ford Mustang, which was soon found abandoned behind Piccadilly Cafeteria, 1900 34th St. N.

All three robbers wore sunglasses.

The white robber was in his early to mid 30s, about 6 feet 1 and 160 pounds, with short salt-and-pepper hair. He wore faded black jeans, a ball cap and a short-sleeved green, red and yellow shirt. He showed the gun, police said.

The black robber was in his late 20s, about 5 feet 6 and 140 pounds, with a round face and a dark complexion. He wore a red pullover shirt, black jeans, a red ball cap and tennis shoes.

The Hispanic robber was 19 to 20 years old, about 5 feet 10 and 150 pounds, with a light complexion, very short black hair and sideburns to the middle of his cheeks. He wore jeans and a light blue shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call police Detective Jesse Isidore at 893-7380.

2 murder cases end in mistrials

LARGO -- A Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge declared a mistrial in the first-degree murder case of Marquise Jenkins early Friday morning.

Jurors told the judge after nearly 10 hours of deliberations that they were hopelessly deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction and didn't think they could reach a unanimous verdict.

Just after midnight, Judge Nancy Moate Ley declared the mistrial to end the three-day trial. Prosecutors plan to retry Jenkins this year.

It was the second mistrial of the night in a Pinellas murder case. Hours earlier, a judge in the first-degree murder trial of Robert "Rocky" Wells declared a mistrial because another jury was deadlocked.

Wells, 50, is an ex-Marine charged with killing his girlfriend.

Jenkins, 19, of St. Petersburg is accused of participating in the home invasion robbery of Juan Jose Gonzalez on April 26, 1999. Jenkins' friend, Xavier Love, was accused of shooting Gonzalez. He was convicted of murder and is serving life in prison.

Scooter rider injured in accident

ST. PETERSBURG -- A 25-year-old man on a motorized scooter lost control early Friday, fell to the street and suffered a severe head injury, police said.

Scott R. Bradshaw, who lives in an apartment complex at 12000 Fourth St N., was in critical condition Friday night at Bayfront Medical Center.

St. Petersburg police say Bradshaw was driving the scooter, commonly known as a go-ped, east on 83rd Avenue N near Riverside Drive when he fell off and hit his head.

Man, 19, convicted in store slaying

TAMPA -- After deliberating for an hour Friday, a jury found 19-year-old Derek T. Holmes guilty of robbing an Ybor City convenience store and shooting its owner to death.

Holmes, known as "O.D.," was convicted of killing Muhammad Naeem Akhtar.

The shooting happened about 11 p.m. July 3 at the Columbus Food Mart. The first-degree murder conviction means Holmes faces life in prison at his sentencing Wednesday.

Court orders new murder trial

TAMPA -- As his attorney made closing arguments in his double-murder trial, James Charles Acker knew something was wrong.

Acker told the trial judge that his lawyer had not effectively argued his case. The lawyer, Simson Unterberger, did not ask the jury to find Acker not guilty. He even placed Acker at the scene of the crime.

Circuit Judge Robert J. Simms told Acker he could appeal. He did, and 10 years later a state appeals court has agreed with him.

The Lakeland-based 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned Acker's conviction Friday and ordered a new trial in the murder of two men at Cambridge Woods Apartments in 1991.

Man charged with killing woman, burning her body

TAMPA -- Hillsborough detectives arrested a 28-year-old man Friday and charged him with killing a woman and setting her body on fire to cover his tracks.

Hartley McWhite, 28, of 1712 Oak Branch Court in Brandon, was charged with second- degree murder in the death of Stephanie Simmons, 29, of Cocoa.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said McWhite drove to Cocoa on March 2 for a visit. Detectives said Simmons and McWhite had sex in an orange grove.

During intercourse, detectives said, he put a cord around her neck and she stopped breathing. Then he put a plastic bag over her head, tied it and loaded her into the trunk of his 1990 Honda.

On March 3, Simmons' burned body was found next to a trash bin in Riverview. The next day, Broward deputies arrested McWhite and charged him with burning a car along an Interstate 95 off-ramp near Fort Lauderdale.

By then, Hillsborough detectives had issued a warrant for his arrest, and Broward officials notified Hillsborough.

McWhite was in jail Friday in Hillsborough, charged with second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, arson and carrying a concealed firearm. Bail has been set at more than $1-million.

Missing diver's body may have been found

DUNEDIN -- Connie Auletta will be at her niece's wedding today. She promises to smile.

Her thoughts may drift to her son a Lealman firefighter who vanished Feb. 21 while diving in the Gulf of Mexico. But she knows her son wouldn't want his family to be sad on such a special day.

Auletta learned Friday that her son's body had been found.

Michigan resident Ryan James Kintz, 20, was looking for driftwood on Englewood Beach in Charlotte County Thursday night when he found the body.

Though investigators have not positively identified the body as Kenny Auletta, his mother said investigators have told her the body was found with diving equipment that matches what her son was wearing when he disappeared. She believes it is him.

"They've pretty much said it's him," she said.

St. Petersburg woman accused of exploitation

ST. PETERSBURG -- A St. Petersburg woman has been arrested and charged with exploiting her 93-year-old mother and an 88-year-old woman.

Nancy L. Carlson, 626 16th Ave. NE, used her position of trust to obtain more than $2,000 from her mother through deceptive means, police said.

Police also said Carlson, who is unemployed, took $2,300 from the 88-year-old woman.

Carlson, 55, is being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $40,000 bail.

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