Latest News

Man pleads to pawning Briles’ stolen jewelry

BRADENTON — A Sarasota man this morning was sentenced 15 months in prison on two felony charges for pawning Kathleen Briles’ stolen jewelry after she was killed.

As part of a plea bargain, James Cellecz will testify against Delmer Smith III, the man accused of killing her.

Cellecz, 32, pleaded no contest to charges of dealing in stolen property and defrauding a pawn broker.

Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith agreed to a plea agreement, which brought the 15-month prison sentence for Cellecz, followed by five years probation.

On Aug. 3, Briles’ husband, well-known Palmetto Dr. James Briles, found his wife bound and bludgeoned to death on the living room floor of the couple’s Terra Ceia home.

Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies have since charged Smith with killing Briles with a cast iron sewing machine.

Sheriff’s reports say Cellecz told detectives Smith had given him Briles’ jewelry to pawn a day after her body was found. Detectives do not believe he had involvement in Briles’ killing.

Cellecz, a registered sex offender, already entered into a similar plea agreement with prosecutors in Sarasota on drug and failure to register charges, in exchange for testimony on several cases involving Smith there.

Smith faces rape, home invasion robbery and false imprisonment charges in the attacks of four women in their Sarasota homes last year. Authorities in Manatee and Sarasota believe Smith may be responsible for as many as 11 similar attacks on women in both counties between February and August 2009.

He also has been charged with beating and robbing a Bradenton couple during a home invasion last year.