Tavaris Mack was arrested for allegedly killing three people during a Lakeland home-invasion robbery in January 2016.
After sitting in the Polk County Jail for two years and nine months, Tavaris Mack tasted freedom when prosecutors dropped the charges accusing him of murdering three people during a Lakeland home-invasion robbery in January 2016.
Charges were dropped by the State Attorney’s Office due to defenses investigation into cell phone records and cell location, new defense witnesses statements, photos and videos while showing defendants never showed Mack at any of the locations, as well as other evidence under covered by defense.
Harris and five individuals were arrested for their roles in wide-ranging racketeering and drug distribution conspiracies that involved seven murders, three kidnappings, multiple firearms and drug offenses, and related criminal conduct.
Nathaniel Harris a/k/a “Popo,” was sentenced to four life terms for the murders of Demetrius Cunningham and Calvin Barnes, and racketeering and drug trafficking conspiracy. In addition, he was sentenced to consecutive terms ranging from 10 to 25 years’ imprisonment for attempted murder, armed kidnapping, and drug and firearms offenses.
Cristie Fay Bottorff, Jerry Alan Bottorff, and Luis Angel Lopez were charged for using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, conspiring to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.
Cristie Bottorff, 34, wife of the murder victim, and her now-husband, Jerry Bottorff, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder July 9. A fourth defendant in the case, Michael Garcia, has been cooperating with detectives. All four defendants face life in federal prison.
Ronald Wayne Harris Jr. was charged with first-degree murder and arson for burning his father to death. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The 39-year-old Davenport man accepted a plea deal rather than go to trial. The attack took place on the evening of Aug. 22, 2010, at the home on King George Drive in Davenport where Harris Jr. was living, according to investigative reports by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Cheyanne Jessie was charged with the murder of her father and her own daughter and then hiding their bodies in a storage shed.
A 12-member jury convicted Jessie of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence for the deaths of her father and daughter. A jury sentenced Jessie to death in July for the 2015 murder of her 6-year-old daughter, and received a life for the murder of her father.
Nelson Serrano was charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the execution-style killings of four people at a Bartow manufacturing plant. The case remains the worst mass murder in Polk County history.
Nelson Iván Serrano Sáenz is a former Ecuadorian businessman and a naturalized American citizen who was convicted of murdering Frank Dosso, Diane Patisso, George Patisso, and George Gonsalves in the town of Bartow, Polk County, Florida, on December 3, 1997. The jury pronounced him guilty and recommended the death penalty in October 2006 after he was convicted of the murders. On June 26, 2007, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection for each of these crimes.
Granville Ritchie was accused of raping and killing a 9-year old girl. Police report shows that the body was put in a suitcase and thrown into the water near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
Granville was convicted of her death and received the death sentence. “I’m feeling very relieved this is over,” said the victim’s mother afterward. “It’s been a long five years. I got justice. I got exactly what I asked for.”
Christian Jose Gomez, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was charged with first-degree murder for killing and decapitating his own mother.
After roughly three years in a state mental hospital, Christian Gomez was declared competent to stand trial. Facing a life sentence, he accepted a plea deal that effectively works out to a 25-year sentence followed by 10 years of probation and treatment.
Clearwater Police charged a 61-year-old Rodney Manley with first-degree murder in the slaying of a woman 15 years ago.
Rodney Manley was found guilty of slaying Missy Cato in April 2000. Her body was found behind the Rio Motel at 1488 Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and her homicide went unsolved for several years. The cold case homicide detectives, who continually revisit these crimes, discovered evidence that put Manley behind bars in April 2015. Jury found him guilty and the judge sentenced him to life in prison.
In 1998, Davis and his then-girlfriend, Valessa Robinson were found guilty of stabbing Robinson’s mother to death.
Six days after Mrs. Robinson’s disappearance, Valessa and Davis, along with 19-year-old Jon Whispel, were arrested after a high-speed chase in Texas. The next day, Mrs. Robinson’s body was found in woods a few miles from her home.
Whispel pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Davis was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
John Jonchuck was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015 for dropping his daughter, Phoebe, off a bridge into the chilly, dark waters of Tampa Bay.
Four years after 5-year-old Phoebe’s death, a jury has reached a verdict in her father’s murder trial. A jury unanimously convicted John Jonchuck of first-degree murder for dropping his daughter off a St. Petersburg bridge in 2015. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Dumas was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of drug possession and five felony charges of armed robbery for incidents that occurred between Feb. 8 and Feb. 13, including robberies at a Citgo Gas Station in Wesley Chapel, a Best Western Hotel in Wesley Chapel, Metro PCS in Zephyrhills, B Creative Painting Studio in Wesley Chapel, and a Subway in Lutz.
Dumas was stopped for speeding on Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and Eagleston Blvd. As deputies searched the vehicle, they found a gun and a used marijuana joint. Deputies also found a firearm and mask, along with shoes and clothing that matched the description from a string of recent armed robberies.
Tillman was accused of killing a 39-year-old female cab driver at a school and drove off in her Yellow Cab.
More than a year after she was found murdered at Azalea Middle School, an arrest has been made in the killing of cab driver Linda Faison. Investigators say Tillman killed the 39-year-old at the school and drove off in her Yellow Cab. They say he abandoned it a short time later in a parking lot on Sunset Drive South in South Pasadena.
Kimwana Hamilton was charged with first-degree murder after gunning down a man in East Tampa. He was also accused of firing gunshots at his girlfriend in their home.
Kimwana Hamilton confronted his 24-year-old girlfriend, Nisha Carson, with a firearm at his residence located at 1715 E Rivercove. He fired one shot at her and then fired shots at her vehicle as she fled the scene.
John Allen Lee was arrested for murdering girlfriend, Traci Nabergall, and neighbor Jason Salter in a rage, days after he had been arrested for allegedly battering both of them.
Lee was accused of murdering Salter and Nabergall in Salter’s South Venice home, repeatedly stabbing both of them in a vicious attack. Both suffered fatal injuries to their necks. Lee received two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Tasha Trotter was charged with first-degree murder after fatally stabbing her 4-year-old son in their homes in Tampa Bay.
On April 5th 2014 Joseph “Turtle” Artis was buried in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lined coffin. Tasha Trotter is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges. Other than her documented mental health issues, her motive remains unknown.
Evans was found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his estranged wife, Elizabeth Evans, and a man she was dating, Gerald Taylor. They were found dead inside her Gulfport condo in December, 2008.
But Evans, a former Jabil executive, got a new trial after the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction and death sentence in 2015. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Johnson was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Judith Therianos of Alfred, Maine.
On April 7, 2016, a woman searching for cans in a field near 6633 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey, Florida, discovered the body of a woman and immediately alerted police. Several days later, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office identified the body as Judith Therianos who had been missing since March 14, 2016.
Police learned through an investigation that Johnson confessed to other inmates that he killed Therianos. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison.
Gaetano Spera and four others were found guilty of first-degree murder for killing a man in a wheelchair.
Allegedly acting upon information he received from his half-sister through an intermediary, Gaetano Keiran Spera set in motion a plan to recruit three confederates to carry out a home-invasion heist of a dwelling in a mobile home park near U.S. 19 North and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.
A jury found Gaetano Spera guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison. His co-defendants, Jonathan Nelson, Alex Richardson and Excel Lawson also face murder charges and are awaiting trial.
Christopher Lee Duncan will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of shooting and killing three people in Moon Lake in 2015, attempting to kill one more and then, while sitting in the county jail, trying to hire a hitman to finish the job.
Duncan pled guilty to three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of attempted murder late last month. As a result, he will not face a jury and court the risk of a death sentence. Instead, the 28-year-old Duncan will likely spend the rest of his days within the walls of a Florida prison after being sentenced to a term of life.
Guadalupe was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 7-month-old-son. The police report listed blunt head trauma as the cause of death and ruled the death as a homicide.
On June 29, Guadalupe was with his son, Angelo, while his wife went to work. He told police Angelo became “fussy” and he called 911 when Angelo was “unresponsive,” according to the Times. The infant was taken off life support July 7, his 52nd day of life.
Steven Pace was charged with child neglect and four counts of possession of a destructive device. Authorities say they saw eight rifles, five handguns, several boxes of ammunition, two pipe bombs and two hand grenades within reach of the child.
Pace was sentenced to nine years and one month behind bars per a release issued by the Department of Justice. Pace entered a guilty plea on possession of destructive devices and armed drug trafficking charges in February. In addition to the court sentence, Pace must also forfeit all firearms and ammunition seized in this case.
Sigler and an accomplice were sent to prison after pleading guilty to civil rights violations for their harassment of an interracial couple including burning a cross in their front yard.
Thomas Herris Sigler III and William Dennis were sentenced to serve 33 and 21 months incarceration, respectively. A third co-defendant, Pascual Carlos Pietri also pled guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment on March 23, 2016. All three of the co-defendant’s sentences are to be followed by three years of supervised release. A fourth co-conspirator is now deceased.
Steven Dykes pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing his daughter, Olivia, as her mother slept in their Pinellas Park home.
Three-month-old Olivia Dykes was beaten to death in 2015 by her father. Detectives said the baby suffered obvious trauma to her head, face and feet. An autopsy determined she had multiple skull fractures. Steven Dykes pleaded guilty and received a life sentence.
Jackie Wayne Woods and Antonio Jhamel Farmer were accused of fatally shooting 27-year-old Quenton Walker on Sept. 13, 2011.
Woods finished a five-year sentence corresponding to attempted felony murder and attempted home invasion robbery convictions in June 2011, according to state records. Farmer wrapped up his own sentence, corresponding to drug-related convictions, the following month.
Woods is currently serving a life sentence for another conviction, an armed robbery charge that relates to a break-in about two months after his release and one month before Walker’s murder.
Marco Parilla was convicted of murdering Officer Charles Kondek of the Tarpon Springs Police Department back in 2014.
It was just a few days before Christmas in 2014 when Kondek was checking out a noise complaint at a Tarpon Springs apartment complex. Parilla shot and killed him. “I’m sorry for taking away your son, I wish I could take it back.” Parilla will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Manuel Ayala was found guilty of fatally shooting George “Teddy” Rivera in 2011. Ayala suspected Rivera was having an affair with his wife.
The day George “Teddy” Rivera disappeared, two men showed up at his Orlando home wearing shirts that read “security” or “sheriff,” the report states. His daughters told police the two men asked for Rivera by name. Rivera got into a car with them, and the three of them drove off.
He was never seen or heard from again. His body was found Feb. 7, 2011, in an undeveloped area of Poinciana in Polk County. An autopsy determined Rivera was shot four times with a 9mm pistol.
Julio “Alex” Morales-Rivera, 39, also was found guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping in the murder of George “Teddy” Rivera. Both Ayala and Morales-Rivera were sentenced to life in prison.
Ronnie Betts Jr. was arrested for killing a mother of two during a St. Petersburg home invasion robbery in 2011. Betts was convicted on two counts of attempted first degree murder.
On the night of 03/23/11, Betts barged into a house in Jordan Park where a group of family and friends were playing cards. He fatally shot Ebony Stewart who answered the door. Betts also shot at two others who recovered from their injuries. Betts was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies arrested James “Pimpin'” Fitzgerald Barron and charged him with first-degree murder charge in connection to the death of Kamar Allen.
Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Barron and charged him with 1st degree murder charge in connection to the death of Allen who was killed by a shot to the head. His body was found next to the power lines between Anclote Boulevard and Blossom Lake Drive, roughly four blocks from where Barron was living.
A witness told deputies that Barron told him he got into a confrontation with Allen at some point. Pasco Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Doll said that Barron believed Allen had stolen money from Barron’s mother. The two left Barron’s residence on foot. Barron had told Allen they were going to go find some women. Barron followed behind Allen, and when they got to a “cut-through,” he shot Allen once and returned to his residence. Barron told the witness he had used a .40 caliber bullet, and that’s what was found in Allen’s head by the state medical examiner.
When he was arrested and charged with Allen’s death, Barron was already in jail and charged with 1st degree murder in a separate case. According to deputies, Barron told a witness that he shot Saunders and robbed him of cocaine. Barron received back-to-back life sentences when he pleaded guilty to murdering the two men.
Farrington and two others were charged with armed robbery for robbing Floral City Bank in Sumter County.
Pursued by a Sumter County deputy, the men lost control of their two-door, black Mazda after crossing a dip in the road near the tracks.
The men were identified as Antonio Lamar Glover, Trelly J. “Cotrell” Farrington, and Jason Brewer, all of Orlando. It was unclear if any of the suspects has a criminal record or why they targeted the Floral City bank.
Craig Wall was charged with first-degree murder of Laura Taft and their child, Craig Wall Jr.
Wall called 911 and reported that CJ was not breathing. Doctors found bleeding in CJ’s eyes and brain, and also rib fractures. Doctors suspected that the injuries were caused by child abuse, so they reported the case to law enforcement.
Taft’s fatal wound was a stab to her torso that entered her heart. Moreover, Taft evidenced multiple defensive wounds. Wall was sentenced to death for the murders of his girlfriend and their 5-week-old son.
United States of America v. Peter Manna – 121 Months Imprisonment
The FBI charged Peter Manna and 25 individuals with a laundry list of crimes including narcotics and firearms trafficking, money laundering, interstate transportation of stolen property, and criminal conspiracy.
Manna pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than fifty grams of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A) and unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Docket No. 10-126 at ECF No. 19). The court sentenced him to a total sentence of 121 months imprisonment.
Davonte Napoleon Williamson was arrested near Polk County for robbery with firearms.
Tyren Malik Sanders, 18, told detectives about his role in the March robbery, according to his arrest report. Lakeland police officers have also charged brothers Don’Tae and Da’Vonta Williamson, also teenagers, in the crime.
Da’Vonta Williamson had $17,720 in cash on top of and under his bed, according to Sanders’ arrest report. Don’Tae Williamson had a loaded sawed-off shotgun and clothing officers think was worn during the crime. Days before the search, officers found Don’Tae Williamson riding a dirt bike that had been purchased in cash from Fun Bike Center in Lakeland, the reports says.
Juan Javier Oquendo was charged with first-degree murder for gunning down a driver outside Stinger Bar on 49th Street S.
According to police, victim James Cason, 33, and Juan Javier Oquendo, 26, got into a verbal dispute outside the 2229 49th St. S. bar. During the dispute, Oquendo is accused of pulling out a gun and shooting Cason to death. Oquendo refused to speak to detectives after his arrest in Dade City, authorities said.
Damon Ford was charged with first-degree murder for shooting Caleb Scott at a gas station.
Caleb K. Scott and another man (Ford) were in a verbal dispute about 12:15 a.m. at a BP station, at 2753 Fifth Ave. S., when the other man (Ford) shot Scott several times in the chest, police said.
The argument and shooting were recorded on surveillance video reviewed by police detectives.
The video showed the gunman (Ford) opening the door to the BP station, then turning toward Scott, who was approaching from behind. They appeared to exchange words as Scott walks past the other man (Ford) into the store. Scott then turns to face the other man (Ford) and they continued to exchange words. The other man (Ford) then pulled out a handgun and began shooting, said in a news release.
State of Florida v. Isidro Jones – Sentenced to Life in Prison
Isidro Jones was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and robbery for killing a woman and two men in a span of a month in 2011.
Carlos Benito Jones and Isidro Santiago Jones are each charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Zorana Lebedic, who was gunned down at Palmetto Street and Fairburn Avenue as she biked home from a Scientology class in downtown Clearwater.
The brothers are already facing charges connected to the fatal shootings of Colbert Collins of Clearwater and Peter Rakowski of New York. The shootings occurred in the area of Cherry Harris Park, formerly called Marshall Park, on Beckett Street in the North Greenwood area.
DNA evidence taken from a pair of shoes has led to the arrest of Jimmie Lee Crews in the 2008 murder of 19-year-old Michael Leonard Tramel Jr.
Detectives located a pair of size 13 Nike tennis shoes in a cooler behind another Lake Hamilton residence. The tread pattern matched tread patterns located at the site of the homicide.
During the investigation, detectives learned Crews had a twin brother, Jamie Crews, who was serving a sentence in Florida State Prison.
Ultimately, new technology in DNA testing recently determined neither of the two subjects Jimmie Crews attempted to implicate had worn the shoes (their DNA was not found in the shoes, and DNA samples obtained were shown not to have been from them). Instead, DNA samples collected had a combination of Jamie’s and Jimmie’s DNA. Jamie Crews was already in prison at the time of the murder, he could not have committed the murder.
Joel Cruz was charged with first-degree murder for killing his former girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.
Authorities say Ananhie Fernandez, aged 2, was repeatedly beaten while in Cruz’s care in May 2013. Cruz had put the girl to bed, but when the girl’s mother discovered the injuries, she had Cruz take them to the hospital, where the girl died. Cruz gets a life without parole in 2013 for the murder of Ananhie.
Tommy Lee Jones was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder with a weapon and one count of domestic violence for stabbing his wife, Juanita Jackson Jones, in their home.
Juanita Jones’ son, Floyd O’Hara, testified that he witnessed Tommy Jones stabbing his mother in their Haines City home that July night in 2013. He told jurors he was playing a video game on the television when Tommy Jones stepped out from the bedroom and walked into the kitchen, where his wife was cooking dinner. “I thought he was going to the refrigerator,” O’Hara said. Instead, he said, Jones grabbed a knife with a 12-inch blade and began repeatedly stabbing his 59-year-old wife in the chest and head.
Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the April 12, 2013 slayings of John Travlos and Germana “Geri” Morin aboard Travlos’ houseboat.
Authorities say Figueroa-Sanabria, who had worked at the marina as a handyman, forced Travlos at knifepoint to unlock a safe where jewelry was kept. Morin’s throat was sliced from ear to ear, and Travlos was stabbed 11 times. The jury unanimously decided Figueroa-Sanabria should die.
Mencher was charged with first-degree murder for killing the president of a rival gang in Florida.
Christopher Brian Cosimano, a/k/a “Durty,” and Michael Dominick Mencher, a/k/a “Pumpkin,” were sentenced to life in federal prison plus 10 years, and life in prison plus five years, respectively, for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, and related firearms offenses.
In 2017, the 69’ers Motorcycle Club was entangled in an increasingly violent feud with the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. The feud escalated, culminating with the murder of Paul Anderson, president of the Cross Bayou Chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, on Dec. 21, 2017.
Cosimano, Mencher, and their three co-defendants stalked Anderson for several miles down the Suncoast Parkway. After following Anderson for miles, Cosimano and Mencher pulled alongside his truck and shot him repeatedly at the intersection of Suncoast Parkway and State Road 54.