Rash of homicides in Manatee defies an easy answer

MANATEE -- Almost halfway through the year, 12 homicides have been reported in Manatee County, putting the homicide rate on track to be much higher than in previous years.

According to crime statistics released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 13 reported homicides in 2010 in Manatee County and 15 in all of 2011.

Arrests have been made in four of the 2012 cases, and arrest warrants issued in two others. Deputies are looking to identify suspects in five other incidents.

One case was a murder-suicide.

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said when 22 homicides were reported in 2009, he was asked, "Why?"

He said the same question is popping up now.

"We have drug-related homicides, domestic-related homicides, true 'who-done-its' and gang-related homicides," Steube said. "So it's difficult to reach out and say this is the reason why."

Steube said due to the nature of homicides, they're almost impossible to prevent.

The sheriff added if his agency is notified a crime may occur, deputies work to prevent it.

"We have some of these drive-by shootings that are gang-related," he said. "We work to saturate particular areas of the county where retaliation shootings may take place."

A majority of 2012's victims have died in shootings.

"I think guns are easy to come by," Steube said.

Here is a look back at the 12 homicides so far this year:

Rashawn Scott

Davell Kendricks, 19, was arrested in the shooting of Rashawn Scott, 26, on Jan. 1 at a rooming house on Fifth Avenue Drive East, Palmetto.

The state attorney's office did not file charges, finding his actions were in self-defense after a card game went awry.

Kendricks, who was released after posting bonds, has pleaded not guilty to other related charges.

His next hearing is June 28.

Christopher Stokes

Christopher Stokes, 22, was found Jan. 6 in an abandoned house on the 500 block of 28th Avenue West, Bradenton, after being shot in the head and chest.

Stokes died at Manatee Memorial Hospital that night.

No arrests have been made. Steube said investigators are awaiting results of DNA evidence.

Ina Gross

Ina Gross, 78, was found the morning of Jan. 9 in the garage at her home on the 1100 block of Hyacinth Place in Riverwalk Hammock, Lakewood Ranch.

Detectives found a knife on the garage floor but no evidence of forced entry. A cause of death has not been released.

Gross' son, Tom, 57, found his mother's body and called 911. Tom Gross, who is a person of interest in the case, is in Israel with dual citizenship.

Kenya Cox

Deputies found Kenya Cox, 19, on Jan. 20 in the 1700 block of 27th Avenue East, Bradenton, shot once in the head.

Cox's cousin Kwame Henri, 20, was arrested. However, the state attorney's office in April decided to not prosecute the murder charge.

Henri pleaded not guilty to drug-related charges.

Adrian Velasquez Baca and Mauricio Maldonado Conde

Roommates Adrian Velasquez Baca, 43, and Mauricio Maldonado Conde, 55, were found Feb. 7 in their duplex in the 600 block of 61st Avenue Terrace East, Bradenton.

Police said neighbors heard gunshots over the weekend. The causes of death have not been released.

No arrests have been made. Steube said investigators are following up on DNA evidence found at the scene.

Kevin Parillo

Kevin Parillo, 41, was found March 8, shot in his upper body, at a residence in the 1000 block of 69th Street Court East in Rubonia.

Detectives determined Parillo's death was connected to the suicide of Charles Baker, 45, at Skyway Memorial Cemetery, Palmetto.

The case was declared a murder-suicide.

Ruben Harris

An arrest warrant for Earl Scott, 32, has been issued in the April 30 death of Ruben Harris.

Harris was shot to death in a parking lot at the intersection of 301 Boulevard East and Ninth Street East, Bradenton.

Deputies believe the incident followed an altercation at DaVinci's nightclub.

George Garnett

George Garnett's stepbrother, Roy Harrison Jr. faces a charge of second-degree murder after allegedly shooting Garnett on May 10 in the front yard of his home on the 2900 block of 39th Street East, Bradenton.

The sheriff has not released a motive, but said it was a "family-related issue."

Harrison, who is being held without bond at the Manatee County jail, has entered a plea of not guilty and has a case management hearing June 28.

Alisa Hartmann

Nicholas Hartmann may face the death penalty in the alleged May 15 beating death of his wife, Alisa Hartmann. He is accused of beating his sleeping wife to death with a baseball bat.

Hartmann pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. A grand jury has since indicted Hartmann on a charge of first-degree murder.

Hartmann was arrested when he arrived at his home on the 2100 block of Harvard Avenue in Bayshore Gardens during a sheriff's office investigation. He is being held without bond at the Manatee County jail.

Natividad Faudoa

An arrest warrant has been issued for Javier Aguilar in the May 26 death of Natividad Faudoa in the parking lot of DaVinci's nightclub.

"We have people hunting them," Steube said of the men with arrest warrants.

Regina Nunez

No suspects have been named in the June 7 death of Regina Nunez, 23, who was found in her apartment on the 4200 block of 24th Street West, Bradenton.

A cause of death has not been released. According to the sheriff's office, Nunez's boyfriend is a person of interest in the case.

"If I could wave a magic wand and say we're not going to have anymore homicides this year that'd be great, but unfortunately you can't control the behavior of people," Steube said.

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