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Suspect in April 26 slaying arrested

The case was delayed by conflicting accounts of a fight that caused a death. The state attorney's office made the decision on charges.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


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

The call came in to the Zephyrhills Police Department about 5 p.m. Thursday: The Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office had issued a warrant 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 whether 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. They identified themselves, and Jones came outside and was arrested without incident, Scudder said.

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

Jones was questioned earlier in connection with the case but fled from officers, authorities said, and pushed an officer to the ground. He was then charged with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. But after he made bail, authorities feared he might leave the area before they completed their investigation.

"Our concern was that if he did find out there was a warrant, there was a good possibility that he would give flight," Scudder said, "and that's why we didn't want to say anything until we knew the warrant was signed.

"Everything went quite smooth, without incident."

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 beaten in the face, shattering his jaw, family members said.

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