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18-year-old suspect charged with second-degree murder

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000

ZEPHYRHILLS -- Authorities finally got their warrant, and then they got their man.

The Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office issued a warrant Thursday for the arrest of 18-year-old Harvey Leroy Jones Jr. on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Loy Lee Hardwick.

The 44-year-old died of massive head trauma suffered in an April 26 brawl outside his Fifth Avenue home. Hardwick was hospitalized for his injuries, and pronounced dead at Tampa General Hospital on April 27.

Because of conflicting accounts of the fight, the Zephyrhills Police Department turned over its investigation to prosecutors to see if charges should be filed. That decision came down late Thursday.

At 8:12 p.m., six Zephyrhills police officers and nine Pasco County sheriff's deputies converged at Jones' home at 38310 Palm Grove Drive, according to Zephyrhills police Capt. Richard Scudder. Jones was arrested without incident, Scudder said.

Jones was being held at the Zephyrhills Police Department late Thursday evening, and was expected to be taken to the Pasco County Jail, where he was to be held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

According to authorities, Hardwick was injured when a group of about 15 teens showed up at his house to confront his 18-year-old son, Justin, and a fight broke out, relatives said. Sometime during the fight, Hardwick was punched in the face. The blow shattered his jaw, family members said.

Authorities offer reward for information on robbery

HUDSON -- The Pasco County Sheriff's Office has released a surveillance photo of a man who robbed the SouthTrust Bank at 8941 State Road 52 at lunchtime June 8.

The man, who was unarmed, eluded ground and air searches and escaped in a new white vehicle driven by another man.

Deputies said the driver of the car, which was an Oldsmobile or Buick, was a white man, possibly in his 30s or 40s.

Anyone with information can contact Detective Jim Bucenell at (727) 844-7723 or the FBI at (727) 815-9398. The FBI is offering a reward for information that leads to the suspects' arrest.

Teenager charged with string of robberies

NEW PORT RICHEY -- A teenager broke into a Texaco Food Mart, was arrested, released on bail, then broke into two more stores just a few hours after his release, deputies said.

The Pasco Sheriff's Office report said Dustin Phillip Eron, 18, told deputies that he shattered the glass door of the Texaco Food Mart at 4509 U.S. 19 around 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday. He also admitted to stealing three cartons of cigarettes, a 12-pack of beer, 20 magazines, a videotape and $10 in coins. He was booked at the Land O' Lakes jail and posted $5,000 bail.

Four hours after he was booked the first time, Eron was arrested again, this time accused of breaking into Sunshine Produce at 4412 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey in the early morning of June 8 and into Burger King at 3444 U.S. 19 in Holiday sometime on Monday. He is suspected of stealing $10 in coins from a charity donation display at Burger King.

He was being held late Thursday at Land O' Lakes in lieu of $15,250 bail.

Computer problem knocks out cooperative's phone lines

A computer problem at Withlacoochee River Electric Co-operative on Thursday morning knocked out a telephone number that west Pasco customers call to report electrical emergencies.

A spokesman for the electric utility said that incoming calls to (727) 869-9465 were disrupted at 11 a.m. Thursday but he expects that number to be back in service by 8 a.m. today.

Until that number is ready, the spokesman said, customers with power outages or other electrical emergencies should call (352) 567-5133.

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