James Pennington

Jury Verdict: Man Guilty of First Degree Murder

 

James Pennington

James Pennington

In the first COVID-19-Era First Degree Murder Trial, jurors convicted James “Jimbo” Pennington for the murder of Devyn Martin in Indian Lake Estates in 2017.

During the 6 day trial, jurors heard testimony from Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies and other witnesses to the crime.  Assistant State Attorney Jaenea Gorman presented evidence to the jurors that the victim went to Pennington’s house to talk to his friend, Christopher Walters, but while he was there, Pennington became angry and ordered Martin off his property.

Pennington went inside his home and returned with a compound bow. He shot an arrow at the victim, narrowly missing the man. The victim reached into his golf cart he was driving and pulled out a rifle, not pointing the weapon at Pennington. Pennington then returned inside his home and came back with a sawed-off shotgun.

The victim never followed Pennington and never threatened him.  He attempted to duck when Pennington fired the shot that killed him.  Pennington then concealed the victim’s body in a wooded area next to his house.  Later, Pennington told deputies that the victim needed to be “exterminated.”  Jurors deliberated for 4 ½ hours before finding Pennington guilty as charged.  He was sentenced to life in prison.  State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Gorman and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for their work in this case.

 

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Edward Stevenson

Child suffered years of sexual abuse, Winter Haven man sentenced to life in prison

 

Edward Stevenson

Edward Stevenson

State Attorney Brian Haas’ Office prosecuted Edward Stevenson for sexually abusing a young girl. Stevenson was convicted at a jury trial of four counts of sexual battery on a child.

He was arrested in 2017 after Winter Haven Police investigated the abuse allegations.  They also conducted a controlled phone call with the defendant and the victim. During the phone call, Stevenson apologized to the victim, said he was likely going to jail, and acknowledged he was “sick” for having sex with her.

At the jury trial, jurors heard from the child victim, who testified regarding the sexual abuse she suffered over a period of nearly three years.  Stevenson was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.  He will not be eligible for parole.  State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Monica Smith and Winter Haven Police detectives for their hard work and dedication on the case.

 

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Alan Stroh

Winter Haven man sentenced to 7 years for trafficking methamphetamine

A Winter Haven man was sentenced to seven years in prison in October for trafficking more than $2,000 in methamphetamine.

Alan Stroh

Alan Stroh

Alan Stroh, 56, was found guilty Oct. 14 after six jurors deliberated for about two hours. Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen sentenced Stroh following the conviction.

Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter prosecuted the case. Nutter told jurors that Stroh was caught “red handed” with the drugs.

Stroh was arrested during a traffic stop by a Polk County Sheriff’s detective on Jan. 10 in Winter Haven.  When deputies approached the car, Stroh was seen sitting in the backseat of a car. Once Stroh exited the car, deputies saw two bags of pills where Stroh had been sitting.

Stroh told detectives the pills belonged to the driver, not him.

But Nutter said during the trial that the 201 pills was something that an owner would have wanted nearby.

“If the meth in the back seat did belong to the driver or passenger, then you would expect them to keep them in a place where they can maintain control over them,” Nutter said.

A test at the stop determined the pills were positive for methamphetamine, and Stroh was arrested and charged with trafficking.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks ASA Nutter and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for their work on the case.

 

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Justin Handshoe

Man who attacked roommates with box cutter sentenced to 17 years

A Winter Haven man, who stabbed two roommates with a box cutter in 2018, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Justin Handshoe, 35, pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which are second degree felonies.

Justin Handshoe

Justin Handshoe

Handshoe attacked his roommates, a man and a woman, several days after he moved out of the apartment in May, 2018. Handshoe said he needed to move out because he lost his job. When he returned, the roommates thought he was picking up his belongings from the Winter Haven apartment.

For unknown reasons, Handshoe, upon entering the home, said, “Sorry, I got to do this,” and cut the man’s throat. When the woman jumped on Handshoe in an attempt to help the man, Handshoe stabbed her in the head before running from the home.

Both victims have fully recovered from their injuries.

Assistant State Attorney William Beaver prosecuted the case.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Beaver and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for their work on the case.

 

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