A Tampa man will spend the next two decades in state custody after his conviction on a charge of second-degree murder.
Hillsborough County authorities say an 81-year-old man hired the now-50-year-old defendant to perform yard work around his home in North Tampa in the late summer of 2016. Per prosecutors, the defendant and his alleged victim became embroiled in an argument over payment, with the victim insisting that the job was worth $22 but the defendant claiming his work merited more.
Investigators say the argument became physical, though stories differ as to the particulars. The defendant said he acted in self defense when he pushed the victim to the ground, striking his head in the act. However, the medical examiner testified that the victim’s fatal injuries were multiple and came from a pair of distinct strikes that were unrelated to his fall.
Whatever the case, the victim was left with a fractured skull and, though not immediately fatal, led to his death in hospital several days later. Prosecutors say the defendant also robbed him of his wallet, which contained $120.
The defendant and prosecutors agreed to a plea deal wherein the defendant would plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 20 years in prison plus 10 years on probation upon his release. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Laura Ward accepted the Puerto Rico native’s plea of guilt last week. He initially faced several charges including burglary, felony first-degree murder, grand theft auto, and theft from a person 65 or older.