In a murder trial in Pasco County this week, prosecutors told jurors that Teresa Lodge scratched the person who attacked and killed her in Land O’Lakes in September 2006. A year later, law enforcement decided that DNA evidence contained in scrapings from Lodge’s fingernails implicated Derral Wayne Hodgkins. The State now claims that Lodge and Hodgkins got into a fight, Hodgkins tried to choke Lodge and ultimately stabbed her 10 times.
Hodgkins was charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. This week’s trial is the second time a jury has been in place to hear the case against Hodgkins. A previous trial was halted and declared a mistrial just before the jury was set to deliberate, due to improper testimony that prejudiced Hodgkins.
Prosecutors told the jury of several lies they claim Hodgkins told police during the investigation. Tampa Bay area criminal defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand cross-examined a witness for the prosecution about some lies that she told police during the investigation. A friend of Lodge’s, this witness covered up the fact that Lodge sold drugs. She also didn’t tell the police anything about having seen Hodgkins at Lodge’s apartment a few days prior to the murder, something she now told the jury occurred.
The trial is expected to wrap up Friday. The state is seeking the death penalty. In Florida, juries recommend whether a defendant should be sentenced to death. The final imposition of sentence is carried out by a judge, who can choose to follow or not follow a recommendation of the death penalty.
Hodgkins maintains his innocence.
- Pasco Death Penalty Trial Ends in Mistrial
- Pasco Death Penalty Trial Begins