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Witnesses agree on who pulled trigger

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001


DADE CITY -- One thing became clear as Detective Allen Proctor spent 48 hours sifting through witness statements in the investigation of the Jan. 6 killing of Florentino Cano:

No matter how many versions of events emerged, everyone involved seemed to agree on at least the assertion that Jonathan Dye "Cowboy" Jones pulled the trigger.

In a 156-page deposition taken earlier this month, Proctor detailed two days of questions, lies, interviews and clues that led to Jones' arrest on Jan. 8, revealing information related to him by a slew of witnesses -- some known only by street names, some whose stories changed daily.

At the heart of the investigation were three women who said they were inside Cano's mobile home on Thomas Jefferson Road when the shooting started. Despite their different versions of what happened, Proctor said they insisted it was Jones who opened fire with a .22-caliber pistol, killing Cano in a robbery scam that turned violent.

Jones is charged with first-degree murder. No trial date has been set.

In the course of the investigation, Proctor said he and fellow detectives talked with "Desi" and "Ricardo" and "Pop" and "The Chicken Man." They called in translators when witnesses spoke no English and chased a murder weapon that was never found before calling in a special weapons team to arrest Jones.

From the evidence, detectives put together a story that started with Jones trying to find money for drugs and ended with him trying to find money to get out of town, Proctor said.

Jones, for his part, has pleaded innocent. In an interview with the Pasco Times, he said, "I did not shoot the man. . . . I'd put my hand on the Bible and my mama's heart that I didn't shoot that boy."

But Proctor, in his deposition, said three witnesses fingered Jones for the shooting.

Proctor said Jones was riding around town in his oversized pickup truck the afternoon of Jan. 6 with Heather Marie Price, 23, and Toya Hicks, 30, when they started talking about getting some money.

Proctor said Price told him they settled on the idea of "rolling" Cano -- meaning one woman would have sex with him while the other stole his wallet -- because as supervisor of an orange grove crew, and without their cocaine habit, he had lots of money.

Price said Jones dropped her off with Hicks at Cano's home.

According to Proctor's account, A third woman, Tina Murray, said she went along with the group. While Price and Hicks were having sex with Cano and his roommate, Richard "Ricardo" Montes, Murray said Jones sent her inside to help with the theft.

Murray said what she didn't realize until she was inside was that Jones had slipped a gun into her jacket pocket, Proctor testified.

Price said she got into a dispute with Cano when he refused to pay for the sex. She reached for his wallet and the argument got physical.

In the ensuing struggle, Hicks said she forced her way into Cano's room and tried to pull Price and Cano apart. Murray said she ran outside to call Jones in for help, he grabbed the gun from her, brushed past her and confronted Cano, Proctor said.

Then, the detective said, Murray told him she saw Jones square off with Cano.

Proctor said Hicks told him Jones fired once, started to walk away, then returned and emptied the gun into Cano.

Proctor said the women told him they all panicked and drove off with Jones, who was intent on getting cash together so he could get out of town.

Jones' appointed attorney, Sam Williams, questioned Proctor throughout the deposition, taken earlier this month.

Proctor agreed witnesses told him different versions and changed their stories. One, Montes, flat-out lied, telling investigators he didn't see anything, only to change his story later, Proctor said.

And Williams wanted to know why the women weren't charged, because they had planned to rob Cano all along.

"If we go with the robbery motive, that would be felony murder, wouldn't it?" Williams asked.

"Could be, yes, sir," Proctor replied.

"Did you have probable cause to place (Murray) under arrest?" Williams asked.

"I think it's a matter of opinion," Proctor said.

Jones has already beaten one murder rap. He was accused of the 1993 slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Kathryn Murphy, and acquitted of the charge after a controversial trial in 1994.

Murphy, a 36-year-old teacher's aide and part-time bartender, was strangled, beaten, stabbed and raped in the bathtub in her home on U.S. 301.

- Information from Times files was included in this report.

Recent coverage

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Dade City man indicted in slaying of worker (January 24, 2001)

Man pleads not guilty to murder charge (January 13, 2001)

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