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Dooley loses bid for mistrial, blamed TV microphones

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 08:10 AM
TAMPA -

Convicted of aggravated manslaughter, Trevor Dooley wanted a judge to grant a mistrial because of microphones placed in court during the trial by a cable television crew.

But Circuit Judge Ashley Moody denied the motion today after a prosecutor argued the defense had not proven anything "except paranoia."

Dooley, 71, faces up to 30 years in state prison when he is sentenced Jan. 17 in the Sept. 25, 2010, shooting death of David James, 41, who was playing basketball with his young daughter at the Twin Lakes recreational park in Valrico.

Dooley, who lives across the street from the park, shot James during a confrontation over whether a boy should be allowed to skateboard on the basketball court. Witnesses said Dooley yelled at the teen-age boy, and James defended him.

Dooley claimed he killed James in self defense, but jurors rejected that claim in less than two hours of deliberation.

Dooley's trial in November was recorded by a crew from "In Session," part of the truTV network. Today, Dooley's lawyer, Ronald Tulin, asked Moody to declare a mistrial because he said microphones placed on and near the defense table by the crew may have recorded confidential conversations.

Tulin said he reviewed recordings of the trial provided to the court by the network and none of them captured private conversations. But he wrote in court pleadings that there were gaps in the recordings.

And Tulin wrote that the "mere presence of the audio device prejudiced the defendant's right to a fair trial and violated his fundamental rights," hindering his ability to confer with his lawyers in court.

Assistant State Attorney Stephen Udagawa argued that the defense had no legitimate claim to a mistrial.

"I don't think they've proven anything except paranoia," Udagawa told Moody. And he said the defense was contradicting itself by claiming both not knowing at first what the microphone was and also that Dooley was intimidated by the microphone.

"There's nothing they can point to that any conversation was recorded," Udagawa said. "It's sheer speculation."

Udagawa also said there was no evidence that Dooley refrained from communicating with his lawyers during the trial.

Further, he said, the outcome of the case was not affected.

"None of the alleged communications that they're complaining about ever made it to the jury or the state or the court," he said. "There's nothing here that vitiates the outcome of the trial."

Moody said she reviewed the defense pleadings and the state's response.

Based on that, and she said, her own courtroom observations, she was denying the motion.


esilvestrini@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7837

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