Monday, September 22, 2008

Victims' parents: Allred should be in court

Andrew Allred, far right, has pleaded guilty to murdering Ocala native Tiffany Barwick and her friend Michael Ruschak.


Published: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 9:36 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 3:54 p.m.

SEMINOLE - The parents of the two young people whom Andrew Allred has admitted killing were upset this afternoon that Allred wasn't in court during his sentencing hearing.

"He was my son's judge and jury," said Janice Ruschak, whose son, Michael, was killed last year along with his friend Tiffany Barwick, an Ocala native.

Allred previously pleaded guilty to killing the two last September inside an Oviedo house.

The state is seeking the death penalty. The defense is seeking life in prison. Allred has waived his right to a jury in the sentencing hearing. The judge has granted his wish to be absent from the courtroom.

The state took testimony from a man who lives across from 100 Shady Oak Lane in Oviedo, where the killings happened. He told the judge that he saw Allred drive up to the house the night of the killings, ram into Barwick's car, then go inside.

The judge also heard from the other people who were inside the house that night, including one young man whom Allred shot, though not fatally. Barwick and Ruschak both were shot to death.

In its opening statement, the prosecution listed the aggravating factors that it says apply to the killing of Tiffany Barwick. Among them: that the killing was heinous, atrocious and cruel; that it was cold, calculated and premeditated; that it was committed during an armed burglary; and that it created a great risk of death to many people.

For Ruschak's case, the factors were the same except for the heinous, atrocious and cruel portion.

The defense, meantime, listed the mitigating factors that it intends to prove. Among them: that Allred lacked the capability to conform to the law; and that he was suffering a severe emotional disturbance.

The proceedings halted this afternoon and are scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Seminole County courthouse.

Allred was present in court briefly during the morning because Circuit Judge O.H. Eaton wanted to make sure he still didn't want to attend the full proceedings.

Allred said loudly and firmly, "No, sir."

Allred appeared disheveled, his hair and beard long and unkempt. He covered his face from the cameras, while raising his middle finger.

In comments after court, the victims' families said Allred shouldn't be allowed to take a pass.

"All these kids have a right to face him," Mrs. Ruschak said, referencing the witnesses who had been inside the house that night.

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