Suspect Named In Fatal Hit-And-Run

BROOKSVILLE –
Police say they have the man responsible for running over a homeless man on Tuesday night.

Darrin Spivey, 31, of 14312 Leisure Lane, was arrested Thursday on charges of leaving the scene of an accident causing death and tampering with evidence.

No one actually witnessed the 8 p.m. collision on Broad Street, but good tips from people who suspected Spivey’s involvement or heard the crash helped crack the case for investigators, according to Police Chief George Turner.

Detectives spent most of Thursday trying to track down Spivey and finally convinced him to come to the police station for an interview. There, Spivey eventually confessed to striking the victim, David Williams, 51, with his green Chevy pickup and leaving the scene, the police chief said.

Spivey’s defense was that he “panicked” and that he didn’t think authorities would believe his story because he is a registered sex offender, Turner said.

Regardless of motives, Spivey drove for as long as he could on the truck’s flat tire before pulling over and calling a friend for a ride. The next day, he went to Tampa to buy a new hood for his truck, which had a “coconut-sized” dent, and a replacement headlight, the police chief said.

Spivey reportedly hid the damaged hood in his mother’s garage. Turner said she had no knowledge of the crash.

The police chief said Spivey didn’t drive his pickup to the police department for his interview Thursday.

On Friday, investigators were verifying the chain of events leading up to the crash. Spivey told detectives that he had spent the day fishing before dropping by his girlfriend’s house for a few hours.

He was driving north on Broad Street, in between Saxon Avenue and Mondon Hill Road, when he struck Williams from behind, Turner said. Investigators believe Williams was riding his bicycle on the pavement, but outside the white line. He was wearing dark clothing at the time of his death.

Police were summoned to help about 30 minutes after the 8 p.m. collision.

Records show Spivey has an arrest record dating back to age 17, when he was convicted of grand theft and vehicle burglary. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to committing a sex act in the presence of a minor and was labeled a sex offender. In 2007, he was sentenced to a year’s probation for DUI.

Turner said Spivey admitted to drinking a few beers while fishing, but detectives are still determining whether alcohol or drugs played any role in the crash.

Tribune researcher Stephanie Pincus contributed to this report. Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

Police: Suspect Strangled Van Slyke

BROOKSVILLE –
Monty Albright was homeless on Wednesday.

Now he’s got a bed at the county jail.

Albright, 35, was brought in by Brooksville police late Wednesday afternoon to answer some questions about the homicide of property appraiser Steven Van Slyke. At 10:45 p.m., he was led out of the Brooksville Police Department in handcuffs, accused of first-degree murder.

Police Chief George Turner said Albright confessed to the killing and that he offered this account to investigators:

On Monday, Jan. 19, the suspect went to Van Slyke’s house at 27 Cherry St., off Howell Avenue, just south of Hernando High School. Albright and the victim knew each other, but the depth of their relationship is unclear, Turner said.

While at the house, Albright bound Van Slyke to his bed and stole his bank card. He used Van Slyke’s car to drive to a local bank cash machine and withdraw cash. With money in hand, Albright returned to Cherry Street and strangled Van Slyke with a “ligature,” according to a press release.

A ligature is something used to bind (like a rope), but Turner wouldn’t identify exactly what type of ligature was used to kill Van Slyke. Albright hid the victim under the bed and tried to clean up the scene before leaving in Van Slyke’s gold Volvo.

On Tuesday afternoon, one of Van Slyke’s friends came over to check on him. He found the body and called authorities.

Turner wouldn’t give any specifics as to what led investigators to Albright, except for witness interviews and retracing Van Slyke’s steps. A press release mentions that Albright continued to use the victim’s bank card after his death.

Earlier in the investigation, detectives said they were looking for two other men who were with Albright Tuesday night. Turner said they’ve identified those men, one of whom was brought in for questioning at the police department Wednesday.

At this point, though, all indications are that Albright acted alone, Turner said.

Albright is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, but only a grand jury can officially indict him on that charge.

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

‘Cats Tame Lions Again

SHADY HILLS –
A year ago on this same pitch at Shady Hills-Bishop McLaughlin Catholic, Land O’ Lakes-Academy at the Lakes turned the table on Hernando Christian Academy.

The Wildcats had lost three times to the Lions during the regular season, yet pulled out a huge victory in the fourth meeting, dropping HCA in the semifinal of the Class 2A, District 9 Tournament.

This season, the situation had reversed. This time the Lions had dropped one regular-season contest and tied two others versus Academy at the Lakes heading into Tuesday’s 2A-9 semifinal at Bishop McLaughlin.

However, on this occasion the regular-season results did foretell the final outcome. The Wildcats scored twice in the second half to notch a 2-0 victory, earning a regional berth and a spot in the title game.

“I’m proud of them,” HCA Head Coach Matt Carrao said of his players. “The first half was good. The second half we ran out of steam.

“Give all the credit to them. Academy at the Lakes is a great team. They had our number this year.”

Romeo injured

HCA (5-9-4) suffered a key injury midway through the first half when an Academy at the Lakes (6-3-2) player collided with goalkeeper Josh Romeo while pursuing a ball outside of the goal box.

With no creditable back-up, Romeo toughed out the rest of the match. The senior essentially played with one arm after appearing to injure his left shoulder. He had four saves on the night.

“The kid was courageous,” Academy at the Lakes Head Coach Don Bellefeuille said. “I think he did a heck of a job. He couldn’t lift his left arm. I wanted to take advantage of it but we never really did.”

Both Wildcat goals, as Carrao pointed out, came in one-on-one situations and Romeo’s injury likely didn’t play a factor.

Five minutes into the second half, Dan Pitcarin got out in front of the defense off a pass by Trace Waters and tallied the game’s first score.

Roughly 15 minutes later, Michael Setteducato pounced on a ball that got by Romeo and kicked it to Kartik Mehta, who put it inside the open net.

“There are certain things you work on through the year and we stopped doing it,” Bellefeuille said. “So I had to remind them of some of the fundamentals. I told them if we get back to the fundamentals of the game, we’ll get one goal within five minutes and two within 10.”

The Lions’ leading scorer, senior Jeff Basciano, had the team’s best two scoring chances, both in the second half and both times thwarted by a great diving save by Jason Pitcarin.

“I thought we outplayed them in the first half,” Carrao said. “The sweeper in the back (Dan Pitcarin), he came to play. I think he was the difference today.

“…Obviously it was a learning season and a humbling season a little bit, but hopefully a growing season. For what we played on the field and the talent we had, I think we overachieved. Next year we’ll add some complimentary players to that and go from there.”

ACADEMY AT THE LAKES 2, HCA 0
HCA 0 0 – 0
AATL 0 2 – 2
Goals – AATL: D. Pitcarin, Mehta.
Assists – AATL: Waters, Setteducato.
Shots on goal – HCA: 5, AATL: 7.
Saves – HCA: Romeo 4; AATL: J. Pitcarin 5.
Yellow Cards – Marra (HCA), D. Pitcarin, Garrison (AATL).
Blue Cards – none.
Red Cards – none.
Records: Hernando Christian (5-9-4), Academy at the Lakes (6-3-2).

Sports writer Chris Bernhardt Jr. can be reached at 352-544-5288 or cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com.

Man Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI

BROOKSVILLE –
A man who sat in his car at the gas pumps for two hours was arrested Saturday night on suspicion of DUI.
A traffic deputy pulled into a BP Gas Station on Cortez Boulevard when she noticed a black Crown Victoria that resembled an unmarked police car. The owners of the station told her that the driver had been idling there for two hours after pumping gas.
The deputy approached the driver, Philip Martinez, who she said was “disoriented” and “jittery” and had constricted pupils. She also noted in her report that the interior of the car he was driving strongly resembled a law enforcement vehicle, from a roof-mounted camera system to the laptop in between the front seats.
Martinez said he wasn’t law enforcement, just a security guard, and that his sister had given him a pill for depression earlier that day, according to an affidavit. Field sobriety tests indicated Martinez, 36, of St. Petersburg, was impaired and he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, an affidavit states.

City Creates Ambassador Of Business Position

BROOKSVILLE –
The city of Brooksville has created a new position charged with attracting new businesses and ensuring the city stays friendly to the industry that has already set up shop here.

And it won’t cost the city a penny.

Dennis Wilfong, a prominent Brooksville businessman, will serve on a volunteer basis as the city’s first Ambassador of Commerce and Employment.

Wilfong will reach out to businesses searching for a new home and help existing businesses thrive and expand, Mayor Joe Bernardini said at a press conference at City Hall called to announce the new position Wednesday afternoon. That will help the city get through the current recession and be well-positioned when conditions improve, Bernardini said.

“(For) far too long Brooksville has taken a passive approach to economic development partly because of our own budget constraints and partly because we have lacked the cohesive partnership between the city, county and our community leaders,” Bernardini said.

The tight budget is still there. But Wilfong, 61, has stepped up to work for free, and by most accounts the city’s relationship with the county is the best it’s been in years, if ever.

That’s especially important in tough economic times because it pays for both governments to work together, City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said.

“Sharing of staff and limited resources enhances what both the city and the county can accomplish more than any single individual or focus,” Norman Vacha said.

Wilfong will work closely with Mike McHugh, the county’s business development director, who was on hand Wednesday along with County Administrator David Hamilton.

McHugh has been “a steady advocate” for the city, but now it’s time for the city to “assume a greater responsibility in that partnership,” Bernardini said.

McHugh has worked in the past with Wilfong, who serves as chairman of the county’s Business Development Committee. McHugh said Wilfong’s business acumen will be an asset as an ambassador to convince new operations to settle here.

Wilfong can not only “talk the talk with business people,” but point to himself as a success story, McHugh said.

“He’s been here, he’s prospered here,” McHugh said. “They know they’re getting the straight talk.”

Wilfong’s name came up when Norman-Vacha asked city council members to come up with an innovative way to stoke the city’s economic development, Bernardini said.

“I am honored to be asked and able to serve in such a unique way for the community that I know as home,” Wilfong said.

Wilfong and his wife Pam have lived in Brooksville for about 30 years. He is the founder of Innovative Technology, Inc., a multi-million dollar business that provides surge suppression technology on a worldwide basis, according to his bio.

Wilfong conducted seminars on the technology for organizations ranging from NASA to Frito Lay. He’s been featured in Success and Florida Trend magazines, and won the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year award in 1996.

He sold Innovative Technology in 1997 and founded Mountaineer Development Corp., which purchases and develops property in Florida and West Virginia.

Wilfong said his first goal will be to create an inventory of available property in the city that could be used by new businesses seeking to set up shop here or existing firms looking to move.

He also plans to “showcase” the Enterprise Zone that extends from the southern portion of the city into the county. The zone offers tax incentives for businesses who settle there.

Wilfong also emphasized the need to meet the needs of Brooksville’s current business community. He used the analogy of a young couple in the courtship phase that sometimes transitions to a failed marriage because one of the partners stops working to make the other happy.

“We don’t want to get a divorce from the businesses that are already here,” he said.

He said he could dedicate as much as 20 hours a week to the position, trying to live by the saying that “God only charges us one rent for the space we occupy, and that is our service to our fellow man.”

Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at 352-544-5286 or lmarrero@hernandotoday.com.

Death On Cherry Street Considered ‘Suspicious’

BROOKSVILLE –
Deanna Yardas wasn’t sure at first what she was hearing, so she paused and listened. It sounded like wailing.
She stepped outside onto her front porch to investigate. The pitiful sound was coming from next door. Yardas hurried over and found a man lying on the sidewalk leading up to 27 Cherry St. He was weeping.
“I think someone broke into Steve’s house and killed him,” the man cried, according to Yardas.
Confused and scared, Yardas tried to get more information from the man. He asked her to quit asking questions. She glanced at her neighbor’s front door.
“There’s no way I was going to go into that house,” Yardas recalled Tuesday afternoon.
Minutes later, around 1:30 p.m., a fire rescue vehicle turned down narrow, brick-lined Cherry Street to check on the situation. Police were not far behind.
Police Chief George Turner said Tuesday that they found a dead man inside 27 Cherry St. and his death is considered suspicious. He named the deceased as Steven Floyd Van Slyke, 58.
By the time students began walking home from nearby Hernando High School, police had roped off the two-story tan house with yellow crime scene tape. Forensics technicians gathered on a porch populated by rocking chairs and accented by slender white columns.
Yardas had few conversations with her neighbor in the 15 years she’s lived on Cherry Street, but they always said “hello.” Van Slyke operated a property appraising business out of his home, Yardas said. She placed his age at mid-50s.
Van Slyke had friends, but he “kept to himself,” Yardas said.
One thing she found curious on Tuesday is that Van Slyke’s car was missing from the driveway. Police are searching for that car now, described as a gold 2004 Volvo with Florida tag 163 KIV.
The man who apparently discovered the body said the last time he spoke with Van Slyke was Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m., according to Yardos.
Across the street, neighbor Faye Rosser estimated Van Slyke had lived at that home for 30 years.
She stood on her porch, arms crossed to ward off the cold, and watched crime scene technicians set to work.
“This is ordinarily a real quiet street,” she said.

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

Woman Getting Tired Of Boyfriend’s Inattention To Her

QUESTION: My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for almost a year. Initially, he would freely show me a great deal of respect and affection. Lately, however, I’m seeing less and less of this attention. I don’t want to be overly sensitive, but I don’t want to be used as a doormat, either. How can I know for sure what is the case?

DR. DOBSON: Give yourself a little test by answering these questions about the relationship: Are you making all the phone calls to the other person? Does he tell you the truth invariably? Have you been “stood up” without a reasonable excuse? Do you fear he is slipping away, and is that causing you to “grab and hold”? Are you tolerating insults that others would not accept? Does he show evidence of cherishing you and wanting to make you happy? Does he reveal your secrets to others and make comments about you in public that embarrass you? Is he physically abusive at times? Does he ever reach for you instead of your reaching for him? Do your friends ever say, “Why do you put up with the stuff he does?”

These are questions that only you can answer. But if you are honest with yourself, you will have no difficulty identifying disrespectful components to your relationship. If you come up with the wrong answers, the solution is not to beg him to do better. It is to pull back and see if he follows. If he doesn’t, you’re better off looking for someone else.

QUESTION: I don’t believe kids are as easily influenced by the media and entertainment industry as you say. What they see does not necessarily determine how they behave.

DR. DOBSON: Well, look at it this way. Back in the early 1980s, the most popular movie was a science-fiction film entitled “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” It included a brief scene where the little creature from outer space was given a few pieces of the candy Reese’s Pieces. The brand was not named, but children recognized it during its few seconds on the screen. In the months that followed, the sale of Reese’s Pieces went through the ceiling. Isn’t that a clear example of a movie’s influence on children’s thinking?

Why do advertisers spend billions of dollars to put their products before the people if what we see and hear does not influence our behavior? Why do schools and colleges purchase textbooks for children and young adults if what they read does not translate into influence of one form or another? Of course children are vulnerable to what they witness! We all are. How much greater impact is made by dramatic, sexually oriented, no-holds-barred musical and theatrical presentations that are aimed at the hearts and souls of our kids? Whom are we kidding when we say they are not harmed by the worst of it?

QUESTION: When parents need help with sex education, who do you think should provide it?

DR. DOBSON: It is my strong conviction that churches believing in abstinence before marriage and in lifelong marital fidelity should step in and offer their help to families sharing that commitment. Where else will moms and dads find proponents of traditional morality in this permissive day? There is no other agency or institution likely to represent the theology of the church better than the church itself. It is puzzling to me why so few have accepted this challenge, given the attack on biblical concepts of morality today.

A few parents who enroll their children in private schools are able to get the help they need with sex education. Even there, however, the subject is often ignored or handled inadequately. What has developed, unfortunately, is an informational vacuum that sets the stage for far-reaching programs in the public schools that go beyond parental wishes, beginning in some cases with kindergarten children.

Dr. Dobson is founder and chairman of the board of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80995 ( www.family.org). Questions and answers are excerpted from “Solid Answers” and “Bringing Up Boys,” both published by Tyndale

Two Pounds Of Cocaine Seized In Spring Hill, Deputies Say

Two Pounds Of Cocaine Seized In Spring Hill, Deputies Say

SPRING HILL – More than two pounds of cocaine were seized Wednesday when deputies served a search warrant at 13347 LaCasita Ave., an affidavit states.

Undercover deputies say they also recovered a plastic bag, spoon and silver spoon, all covered with cocaine residue, in addition to the 2.2 pounds of cocaine.

Arrested in connection with the seizure are residents Harriet Sangvic, 40, and Carl Hodges, 45. Both are charged with trafficking in cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Woman Accused Of Molesting 3-Year-Old Girl

SPRING HILL – A Spring Hill woman was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation Thursday because deputies say she inappropriately touched a 3-year-old girl.

The alleged incidences occurred in December and the victim described for investigators what the suspect, Zara Moore, had done to her, according to an affidavit.

Moore, 35, of 10205 Lynnhaven Road, denied the allegations to authorities on Tuesday and said that the 3-year-old was “aggressive and curious” and had touched her instead, an affidavit states.

Grandma Discovers Pot Growing In Garage

SPRING HILL – A grandmother discovered 33 marijuana plants in her garage when she began searching for the source of her unusually high electric bill.

The homeowner of 6013 Parnell Ave., Anna Calleri, called authorities on Wednesday after finding what looked like some suspicious tomato plants in her garage. She suspected they belonged to her granddaughter’s husband, Jeffrey Brahony, who had moved in with his family six months ago.

A deputy arrived to investigate and confirmed that it was marijuana growing in the box. The deputy left and came back when Brahony and his wife were at home. Brahony claimed possession of the marijuana seeds in the garage, but claimed ignorance of the pot in the box, according to a report.

Brahony, 21, was arrested for possession of the seeds and on the way to jail he reportedly admitted to growing the pot. He was charged with cultivation of marijuana.

12-Year-Old Suspected Of Selling Marijuana

SPRING HILL – A 12-year-old Fox Chapel Middle School student was arrested Wednesday after he reportedly sold marijuana on campus.

An anonymous tip from students led deputies to pull a 7th-grader out of class and, after questioning, he handed over a plastic bag with marijuana. He named the student who sold it to him for $10 and was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Deputies next talked with the alleged supplier, who told deputies he sold drugs in the locker room and that he had gotten the pot from his older brother. He was charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to sell.

Report: Teen On Burglary Bond Breaks Into Home

SPRING HILL –
Natasha Raiola found herself in a familiar place on Thursday – in handcuffs, charged with breaking into a house.

Hours prior, she was standing in circuit court accepting a three-year prison sentence for her role in a May 22 home invasion that injured a 93-year-old man. Raiola, 16, was given two weeks to get her affairs in order before reporting to the Department of Corrections.

In the intervening hours, deputies say, she and a friend, Jeovani Hernandez, went three times to a Spring Hill home to settle a score. When the parents of their target wouldn’t let the pair inside, Hernandez, 18, reportedly kicked in the door and tried to force his way inside.

A deputy went to the home on the 7200 block of Terrytown Drive and noted the shoeprint on the door appeared to match a Converse sneaker. His investigation led them to the suspects’ home, 8377 Falmouth Court, where both admitted to the attempted break-in, according to an affidavit.

Both were charged with burglary of a structure.

Raiola was previously charged in connection with a home invasion last May on Lodge Circle. The other suspect in that case, David Barnes, held a gun to the elderly victim’s head while Raiola grabbed $300 in cash and a cell phone. The two fled in the victim’s Toyota.

Barnes pleaded no contest in December and received four years prison. Raiola pleaded guilty on Thursday and received three years prison, with a recommendation for DOC boot camp.

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

Lawsuit Blames Doctors For Alleged MRSA Death

BROOKSVILLE –
A widow filed court papers last week that blame local health care providers for her husband’s death from a virulent staph infection.

The Dec. 29 lawsuit alleges that doctors failed to diagnose Ronald Carl with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – better known as MRSA – when he went to a doctor to have a boil lanced last July.

The bacteria that causes MRSA has a variety of symptoms including abscesses that require surgical draining.

Instead of taking a culture to determine the type of infection affecting Carl, he was prescribed antibiotics and sent home, the lawsuit states.

Several days later Carl was admitted to Oak Hill Hospital to control his high blood sugar and tests revealed he had MRSA. However, he was not told of the infection, nor did staff write the results on his chart or notify his doctor, according to the lawsuit.

Carl went home again and his prescribed antibiotics kept the MRSA under “reasonable control” until Sept. 19 and 20 when he visited two other doctors, the lawsuit states.

He was diagnosed with “uncontrolled diabetes,” but the abscess on his back was not examined before he was readmitted to Oak Hill Hospital on Sept. 20, the lawsuit alleges.

The admitting doctor called several times over that period to check on Carl, but it was 21 hours before he was physically examined around midday Sept. 21, according to the lawsuit. The consulting physician determined that Carl was septic with MRSA and ordered him into the intensive care unit because of Carl’s worsening condition, the lawsuit claims.

Carl went into cardiac arrest an hour later, was revived, then died the following morning, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the Oak Hill Hospital staff and the physicians that treated Carl. It bases its request for more than $15,000 in damages on the Florida Wrongful Death Act. That act provides compensation for families who lose loved ones to medical malpractice.

Richard Linkul, spokesman for Oak Hill Hospital, could not comment on pending litigation. A message left for the attorney behind the lawsuit, Terry Nelson, was not returned Tuesday.

While MRSA can be a fatal infection, there are also thousands of people infected with the bacteria who show no signs of the disease, said Roger Sanderson, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health.

And while MRSA does cause boils on the skin, there’s no reason to immediately suspect that a patient with a boil is infected by the disease, Sanderson said.

“The only way to definitely know is to culture it,” he said.

The most common way that MRSA is spread is by person-to-person contact, although it can become airborne if a person is sick with pneumonia. An uncovered draining abscess could create a higher transfer spread, Sanderson said.