Friday, August 8, 2008

2 accused killers make court appearances

By David Angier / News Herald Writer
August 7, 2008 - 11:29PM

PANAMA CITY — Jose A. Gonzalez had his first appearance Thursday in juvenile court on a charge of murder.

Gonzalez, 16, is accused of stabbing to death Timothy Roy Humphries, 49, Saturday night near the 1400 block of Lisenby Avenue. He and an accused accomplice, Jose Luis Rios Robledo, 27, were arrested in Orlando on Monday.

Gonzalez can be held in juvenile detention for 21 days to allow prosecutors time to decide what to do with his case. If they decide to seek a first-degree murder charge, they will bring his case before the grand jury for an indictment.

If Gonzalez is indicted, he automatically is waived up to adult court. If prosecutors decide to charge him with a different level of murder and seek to try him as adult, they'll have to make a request through the court and argue their reasons at a hearing.

Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith, Gonzalez's likely attorney because he handles nearly all indigent murder defendants in the circuit, said he does not believe this is a first-degree murder case. Smith said the information he's getting is the stabbing was the result of a fight.

Even if the state gets a first-degree murder indictment, Smith said, it probably cannot seek the death penalty because of Gonzalez's age. Smith said he believes the Florida Supreme Court has made it unlawful to execute convicted murders younger than 17.

Another of Smith's clients, Matthew Caylor, was arraigned in Circuit Judge Dedee Costello's court on Thursday. Caylor, 33, of Auburn, Ga., is charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery with great bodily force and aggravated child abuse. He's accused of raping and killing 13-year-old Melinda Denise Hinson on July 8 at the Valu-Lodge motel in Panama City.

Prosecutors already have declared their intent to seek the death penalty against Caylor.

Thursday's arraignment was to allow a formal reading of the charges against him and the submission of Caylor's written plea of not guilty. He was scheduled for another pretrial hearing in September, but no trial date was set.

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