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Two felons accused of terrorizing woman

Police say the woman's home was chosen because a light was on.

By MIKE BRASSFIELD

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 29, 2000


PINELLAS PARK -- Police say two convicted felons who wanted money broke into a 68-year-old woman's mobile home early Thursday, picking it at random because a light was on inside.

The woman had been watching television. Her attackers choked her, threatened her with a crowbar and took anything of value they could find, detectives say. They told her they would kill her if she called the police.

But they left fingerprints behind.

David Randall Hill, 23, and Sidney Russell, 22, are in jail, charged with a home-invasion armed robbery.

Their target, Catheryn Robert, was frightened but relatively unscathed by the 1:40 a.m. robbery in the Crystal Lake Mobile Home Resort, 9301 49th St. N.

"She's living on Social Security. They took her pocketbook, a ring from her mother, and silver dollars she had collected for her grandkids," said Pinellas Park police Detective Ken Blessing.

Luckily, police found most of the stolen goods in Hill's home at 5984 18th Ave. N in St. Petersburg, Blessing said.

Hill got out of prison in July after serving three years of a four-year prison sentence for attempted murder, records show. Russell is on probation from an earlier felony cocaine charge, Blessing said.

Blessing gave this account:

Hill and Russell needed money, and they went to Crystal Lake because Hill said his grandmother lived there. Hill got out of the car, wandered around for 10 minutes and came back to get Russell. He wanted help breaking into a particular mobile home.

"They picked it because there was a light on. They had to have known she was there," Blessing said. "Hill covered his face. Why cover your face unless you know someone is there?"

Blessing said Hill was the more violent of the two, choking the woman and threatening her with a crowbar. Hill pleaded no contest to attempted murder in 1997 after he fired a rifle and a revolver at a man at a party in Pinellas Park.

Hill and Russell were in the Pinellas County Jail on Thursday night. Their bail was set at $100,000 and $75,000, respectively.

Both men also are charged with violating their probation.

"I don't anticipate either one of them getting out of jail until the trial rolls around," Blessing said.

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