Court releases prosecutors' documents in Bellush case
By LEANORA MINAI and JOUNICE L. NEALY
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 23, 1998
ARASOTA -- Documents released Monday in the murder of Sheila Bellush, the slain mother of six children, suggest a strong link between her former husband and an alleged conspiracy that ultimately led to her death.
The documents, part of the discovery proceedings in the criminal investigation, include interviews with one of Bellush's teenage daughters and with men who gave statements about San Antonio businessman Allen Blackthorne.
Blackthorne has not been charged with a crime, and his attorney, who could not be reached for comment, has maintained Blackthorne's innocence.
But references to Blackthorne come up in portions of the nearly 1,000 pages released in the criminal case Monday by the state attorney's office in Sarasota.
According to statements:
Stevie Bellush, Bellush and Blackthorne's 14-year-old daughter, told deputies the day her mother was killed that she suspected her father might have been involved, though she had no specific evidence of his involvement.
Samuel Gonzales, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, said he heard from another man that Blackthorne ordered his ex-wife beaten so he could get custody of their teenage daughters.
Jack Speights, a friend of Blackthorne's, told of Blackthorne's anger toward Sheila Bellush.
Shortly before her death, Sheila Bellush moved to Sarasota from San Antonio with her second husband, Jamie Bellush, and their quadruplet toddlers.
On Nov. 7, investigators say, Jose Luis Del Toro Jr. broke into their Sarasota home and waited for Bellush. Del Toro, police said, shot her in the face and cut her throat twice in front of the quadruplets.
Del Toro, 22, is in prison in Mexico, fighting extradition to Florida on a first-degree murder charge.
Two other men, Gonzales and Daniel Rocha, both of San Antonio, have been arrested and charged in her death.
Gonzales, 27, is in a Sarasota jail, sentenced to 19 years. Daniel "Danny" Rocha, 28, a golfing buddy of Blackthorne's, has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. His trial is set for November in Sarasota.
It was Bellush's daughter, Stevie, who found her mother dead. She told a deputy, according to her Nov. 7 statement, that she had suspicions about her father, Blackthorne.
"We had a lot of problems with him," Stevie told detectives. "He has a detective working for him in San Antonio. And that detective found out where we were 'cause we moved and we did not tell my father, Allen Blackthorne, where we were going because we didn't want him to know where we were."
"I guess my dad... just doesn't like my mom," she told detectives. "As dumb as that sounds."
Gonzales, the co-defendant who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, said that at first Blackthorne wanted his wife injured so he could get custody of one of their teenage daughters.
"I asked Danny (Rocha)," Gonzales said. "Who was the guy that wanted this woman beaten up. At this time, Danny told me it was Allen Blackthorne."
Gonzales testified that a private investigator located an address for Sheila Bellush in Sarasota. Gonzales said Rocha wanted him to call his cousin, Del Toro, to do the job for $5,000.
"Allen said that when and if he gets custody of his daughter, he is willing to pay $10,000 more with no questions asked," Gonzales said. "I told Danny that in order for Allen to get his daughter back, Sheila would have to get beaten up pretty bad and she could possibly die because of her injuries."
In addition to cash, the payoff would be a stake in a golf course development, according to testimony.
Blackthorne allegedly said Rocha could manage the course and Gonzales would be "taken care of."
Blackthorne bragged about his development to other golfers, including Jack Speights.
In his testimony to detectives, Speights said Blackthorne told him of plans to invest $20-million to build an exclusive golf course in San Antonio.
Speights, who also was a friend of Rocha's, told authorities that Rocha and another man went on a business and golf trip with Blackthorne in August.
During that trip, one of the men got drunk and asked about having a woman killed, according to Speights' statement. The man wanted the woman killed "because she was beating the kids."
Speights warned Rocha about getting involved and advised him only to play golf with the man, whose name was concealed in that part of the statement.
Soon after that business trip, one of Sheila Bellush's daughters lodged an abuse complaint against her mother. Sheila Bellush was later arrested on a felony charge of injuring a child.
Speights was at Blackthorne's house soon after the arrest.
Said Speights: "While at Allen's house, Allen put in a videotape of a news cast concerning his ex-wife's arrest and said, "You see what kind of b---- I used to be married to.