Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on May 17, 2000 · 43
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 43

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St. Petersburg, Florida
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Wednesday, May 17, 2000
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43
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4 " - LOCAL NEWS YRflCA to parents: Speak up about accused worker Time photo TONY LOPEZ Franklin Smith is accused in the slaying of a convenience store clerk in September 1989. Trial begins for man in DNA link to '89 slaying By GRAHAM BRINK Timet StflWntr A letter urges people to offer comments, good or bad, about an employee facing sex charges. By CURTIS KRUEGER and JANE MEINHARDT Timet StaHWrjtert TAMPA Eleven years ago, witnesses described the man who abducted Eileen Mangold from a Riverview convenience store as a scruffy looking 30-year-old with a full head of long, blond, curly hair. Today, Franklin A. Smith, bald onrl immrlfatherlv in appearance, stands accused of first-degree murder in Mangold's killing. It's a discrepancy not lost on Franklin's attorney, assistant public defender Lyann Goudie. Smith has been bald for several decades, Goudie said, and while 42 at the time of the killing, he has always looked much older, she told the jurors during open statements Tuesday. Take a good look at Franklin Smith," she said. "What you are looking at is an innocent man, falsely accused." Smith's fingerprint and DNA, however, were found on the car and on Mangold's clothing, said prosecutor Jay Pruner. Smith told investigators that he never knew Mangold and never had sex with her. But the odds are that no one else on the planet could match the genetic profile of the semen, Pruner said. "The DNA matched perfectly with the DNA of this defendant," he said. Mangold, 50, was working the evening of Sept 19, 1989. as a cashier at the now-defunct Kangaroo Fuel Stop on U.S. 301. Witnesses saw Mangold's killer force her into her station wagon and drove off with her in the passenger seat, according to sheriff s reports. Her car was discovered five hours later at Krycul Avenue in Riverview. Her body was found eight hours later. The jaw detached from the skull and was shattered, Pruner said. Investigators found fingerprints on the car, but could not link them to anyone. Last year, a fingerprint expert ran some of the prints again and came up with a hit. A partial print taken from the hood of the car matched Smith, who had been arrested and fingerprinted in unrelated cases before the killing. Investigators questioned Smith, who then agreed to give a blood sample for testing. He was arrested in December. The killing prompted a local ordinance requiring two clerks at night in convenience stores. The two-clerk law, however, was dropped in 1993 when state laws were passed mandating video cameras in all-night stores. If convicted, Smith could be sentenced to death. Graham Brink can be reached at (813) 226-3365 or brinksptimes.com. ST. PETERSBURG While its community outreach director faces sexual assault charges, the St Petersburg Family YMCA is pledging to cooperate fully with the criminal investigation but it's also soliciting expressions of support for its jailed worker. In a letter mailed to parents in the French Villas apartments and the Leal-man YMCA, where Christopher Lee Allen worked, YMCA president and CEO Doug Linder wrote: "Certainly, if someone feels Chris has harmed them, i ... Allen h Under we would want them to tell authorities Hnwpvpr. I know manv of you believe in Chris, and the things he has done for Lealman and French Villas. I would ask that you also speak up." Asked whether the letter was intended in any way to discount the allegations against Allen, Under said, "Absolutely not That was not my intention at all." Linder said he was prompted to include that in his letter after a sheriff's sergeant asked him whether he had been hearing expressions of support for Allen. Bill Stover, chairman of the YMCA's board, had not seen the letter. When a reporter read it to him over the phone Tuesday, he said it sounded fine to him. "Yes, I think that positive should be solicited as well as negative," Stover said. The letter also points out that Allen has been suspended while facing these "serious charges" and says that "the YMCA is cooperating fully with authorities during the investigation." It says the Vs top priority is children and that "while we know Chris is innocent until proven guilty, we want to make sure that everyone feels they can come forward at this time." The letter says the Y will provide counseling to any child who needs it and urges parents to call (727) 895-9622 to arrange it. Allen was arrested Sunday and charged with sexually assaulting two 11-year-old girls and fondling a third. He met the girls while working in his YMCA job. Before coming to the St. Petersburg YMCA, Allen had been charged in South Carolina with two counts of committing a lewd act on a 12-year-old. He was acquitted in 1997, and he told the YMCA about it when he came to work there about two years ago. Stover and Linder came to the YMCA after he was hired. The previous president John C. Cannon, would not comment Tuesday. Stover said he had been aware that there had been some sort of "incident" in South Carolina, but he could not remember exactly when he had been told about it He said he had not known that the offense was for something so serious, and that if he had, he would have been more deeply concerned. But he also pointed out that because of Allen's acquittal, "He was a not-guilty person, so you couldn't carry that forward anyway." Stover said he was sure the Allen matter would be discussed by the board soon. Steve Anderson, a member of the YMCA board, said he would like the board to discuss carefully how closely to scrutinize employees in such cases. Invocation is no issue to Hernando commission By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK Timet Staff Writer . BROOKSVILLE The Rev. Phillip Moore asked God to guide the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday as it handled the community's business. The audience listened with eyes downcast as Moore spoke about the need for the community to work together for the public good. He noted that the commission chamber was not a place of religion but one of government. Then Moore, pastor of New Hope Assembly of God. ended his prayer "in Jesus' name." County Attorney Garth Coller rolled his eyes. Only days earlier, Coller had drafted a letter to religious leaders who offer the commission's weekly invocation, asking them to keep their comments neutral. "Due to the constitutional restrictions on the separation of church and state, and due to the fact that our citizens have many differing religious beliefs, please fashion your invocation not to offend," stated the letter, signed by commission office manager Alice Gura, who invites ministers to open each commission meeting. Moore was the first to receive the letter, written after an anonymous resident called to complain about the numerous mentions of Jesus in the invocations. Moore said he tossed and turned in his sleep and prayed about what he should say. "I went with a feeling of peace. I gave the same kind of prayer I would give anywhere else," said Moore, a minister of 41 years. "I'm not going to quit calling the name of Jesus because they don't like it." Commissioners said they have nn nrnhlpm with that Preachers and teachers from all religions are welcome to give the invocation, they said, and all can speak the language of their religion. A mem-W nf n Ipwish consrrecration was nskprl tn deliver the opening prayer several years ago but opted for a moment of silence so people rnnlrl nrav to their own eod. "We should always be within tVip tniirlplines of the constitutional rpstrirtinns." said Commissioner Nancy Robinson, who regularly crosses herself after each invocation. "But within the constitutional realm, one can still have an invoca tion It s a good base. Ill Pinellas elections official resigns Pinellas' longtime supervisor of elections, Dot Ruggles, was too sick to sign her letter of resignation. tion from the Office of the Supervisor of Elections of Pinellas County, PI n r ! A o " By EDIE GROSS Times Staff Writer Her health declining rapidly, Dorothy "Dot" Ruggles has resigned as Pinellas County's supervisor of elections. Ruggles, who has battled breast cancer for more than a year, was too sick to sign the resignation letter herself. Her son, James L Walker, who has power of attorney, signed it for her and faxed it to Gov. Jeb Bush's office Monday evening. "Due to my serious health conditions, please accept my resigna- '"1 Ruggles' letter said. "I intend this resignation to be effective immediate- ly." It is up to Bush to ap- Kuggies terim super. visor until a new one can be elected in November. His staff said Tuesday that he had no timeline for doing so. In the meantime, deputy administrators Joan Brock and Deborah Clark are keeping the office organized. Ruggles, 59, has recommended that Bush appoint Clark to fill the interim position, but others, including Largo City Commission er Marty Shelby, plan to apply. Riitrcrlps the county's elections supervisor for 12 years, continued to run the office even after going through difficult chemotherapy treatments. Two weeks ago, she handed in her departments bud get request. Rut friends sav her health be- non tn aor shnrtlv after that. On May 5, Ruggles said she would hlv withdraw from the Nov. 7 ballot. A few days later, she made it known that she planned to resign hpfnre the elections took place. On Thursday, she was admit ted to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, said Clark. Her son and daughter, Diane Romero, returned her to her Clearwater home Tuesday morning, where hospice workers were caring for her, Clark said. Witness in murder suffers lapse of memory this time Hie getaway driver in a 1995 murder, who in the past testified to the details of the crime, now says he might have lied. By GRAHAM BRINK Timet Staff Writer TAMPA Three times, Mickey Hammonds helped prosecutors convict his co-defendants in the bizarre scheme to murder the owner of a modest Drew Park grocery store. His testimony was rock-solid, outlining dates, times and tiny details only an accomplice could know. Now Hammonds has changed his tune. He doesn't remember anything about the killing, he said at a hearing Monday, the day Walter Ruiz was to be retried for pulling the trigger. And, he said, he might have lied during previous trials. Prosecutors called the hearing in a successful bid to persuade the judge to allow them to read a transcript of Hammonds' past testimony to the jurors instead of calling Hammonds as a witness. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but Hammonds' revelations delayed it until today. "It's definitely a change from what he has said in the past," said Ruiz's attorney, Brian Don-erly. Ruiz was one of four people charged in the murder of Rolando Landrian in April 1995. Lotia Romanes and her husband, De-lio, were both convicted of hiring Ruiz to kill Landrian, who was Mrs. Romanes' former common-law husband. Mrs. Romanes said Landrian had molested her two daughters from a previous marriage and ultimately fathered five children by them. But prosecutors said Mrs. Romanes' motive was greed and that she and her husband wanted to take over Lan-drian's business. Lotia and Delio Romanes both received life sentences. In Ruiz's original trial in 1996, Hammonds, the getaway driver, told jurors that Ruiz confronted Landrian outside a Kennedy Boulevard convenience store, forced him into a car and robbed him at gunpoint Ruiz eventually forced Landrian out of the car and started firing, he said. They left the bullet-riddled body on a quiet South Tampa street, Hammonds said. Ruiz claimed at trial that he was shopping with his mother in Orlando at the time of the shooting. Hammonds' testimony helped put Ruiz on death row for first-degree murder, armed kidnapping and armed robbery. But last year, the Florida Su preme Court granted Ruiz a new trial and said the prosecutors were guilty of "egregious and inexcusable prosecutorial misconduct." The court said that, among other problems, prosecutors demeaned and ridiculed Ruiz by calling him "Pinocchio" and then invited the jury to "con vict Ruiz of first-degree murder because he is a liar." When Hammonds took the stand Monday, he answered questions about whether he remembered the killing with a series of "No, ma'ams." Was some of his previous testimony made up? "Yes, probably some of it," he answered. The law allows certain testimony to be read to jurors when witnesses who have testified at another trial or given depositions are unavailable or uncooperative. Donerly, Ruiz's lawyer, said the jury will have more difficulty evaluating the credibility of the testimony if it is read from a transcript. "You can be assured that I will try to make sure the jurors know the circumstances," he said. Hammonds was allowed to plead guilty in exchange for 20 years as long as he testified truthfully against his three co-defendants. Pam Bondi of the State Attorney's Office would not comment on whether the office will rescind the deal and prosecute Hammonds for his role in the killing. She also did not want to say how his absence could affect the case. 'There's always the chance he'll come in (today) and decide to testify like he did in the past trials," Donerly said. "Anything could happen." Graham Brink can be reached at (813) 226-3365 or brinksptimes.com. I -PI Mir. mx ''Au&asr.' eftlriW $ift M ,rtX0' 'WiGCSS'' 0X it More than 75 historic photos and pages from the St. Petersburg Times S.2"""' assassination ImagesofeCentury Visit this free exhibit at this location: WestShore Plaza Corner of Westshore and Kennedy Tampa Tuesday, May 16-Tuesday, May 30 mm. J President; jo. wil.ua kIR! Oiiimi'i" ewe,, liX?.. i;i mam I t&34mm IS hi. - -- . - - i mm ii " ij L- Mmtm wr fillll mVDB Updated weather reports any time day or night Current local weather Live cameras Live hghtning strike Doppler radar Pollen map report 5-day forecast Tide charts ...and more floridaforecast.com r I

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