In a recording played for jurors Wednesday morning, John Sexton, who is on trial for the brutal murder of 94-year-old Ann Parlato, expressed surprise at the news she was dead.
“Oh wow,” Sexton said in the Sept. 23, 2010 interview with deputies made the day Parlato’s body was found. “Wow. Horrible. I kind of liked her.”
As the recording played in the courtroom, Sexton, 49, clenched his jaw and shook his head.
Parlato was raped, killed and mutilated in her Port Richey home sometime between the late night hours of Sept. 22, 2010 and early the next morning.
Parlato’s next door neighbors told jurors Tuesday they heard a loud thud around midnight or 12:30 a.m. that night. When they went outside to investigate, they saw Sexton’s blue 2000 Dodge pickup in Parlato’s driveway. Sexton, who did yard work for Parlato, was seen moments later standing in front of the window at Parlato’s kitchen sink, they said.
The neighbors wrote down the license plate number of the truck, which led authorities to Sexton.
Pasco sheriff’s detective Jason Hatcher testified he went to Sexton’s home on Niagara Drive, less than a mile away from Parlato’s home. Hatcher said Sexton appeared nervous and turned his knuckles inward to hide a cut on his right knuckle.
Sexton’s wife, Katherine, testified Wednesday the cut came days before the death of Parlato. She said it happened while he was on a landscaping job with a razor, which is what John Sexton told investigators.
On the night of Parlato’s death, the Sextons were arguing about John Sexton’s drinking. Katherine Sexton said she drove by a lawn job her husband was performing around 7 p.m. on Sept. 22, 2010 and found an opened beer container in his truck. She was angered and drove home. She said she left the house again and found her husband about 9:45 p.m. in the driveway of a vacant home on Fox Hollow Drive.
She asked him to come home during that argument in the driveway, but he left and went to Circle K at the corner of Little Road and Fox Hollow Drive. She followed and saw him leave the store “with a beer in his hand.” After a confrontation in the store’s parking lot, he drove off and Katherine Sexton called 911.
“I reported that my husband was drunk and that he was driving down Little Road,” Katherine Sexton said.
She went back to their Niagara Drive home and called her husband’s cell phone “a bunch of times.” About 1:45 a.m., she went into a back room to sleep. She said her husband returned home about 10 minutes later.
John Sexton told authorities he arrived home at 10:30 p.m.
When asked if she noticed any blood on her husband, she said no. She also said he didn’t shower when he came home.
“I didn’t really talk to him,” Katherine Sexton said from the witness stand, admitting she was fuming from their argument that night. “I just said ‘Pizza’s in the oven. Sleep on the couch. Goodnight.’ ”
Walking away from the witness stand, Katherine Sexton looked over at her husband and mouthed the words, “I love you.”
Pasco sheriff’s detectives arrived at the Sextons home about three hours after Parlato’s body was found in her living room by a friend. As John Sexton spoke to investigators, they noted he had blood on a gray University of South Florida T-shirt and the khaki shorts he was wearing.
When assistant state attorney Michael Halkitis asked if John Sexton’s shirt had anything unusual on it, Detective Robert Grady answered: “It had what appeared to be blood stains on it.”
Halkitis then asked about the shorts.
“Same thing,” Grady said. “Had blood stains on them.”
Hatcher, wearing a pair of blue latex gloves, walked the length of the jury box, first holding up the T-shirt and then the shorts. Black ink circled the blood spots on each garment. There were at least eight on the shirt and more than six on the shorts.
Parlato’s blood was found on Sexton’s clothes, according to a test by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A test of Sexton’s cuticles and fingernails also showed traces of Parlato’s DNA.
During his recorded interview with Sexton, Hatcher asked him what he thought should happen to someone guilty of murdering another person. There was little hesitation in Sexton’s response.
“I’m usually for capital punishment for murder,” Sexton told Hatcher.
If found guilty of Parlato’s death, Sexton faces the death penalty.
The third day of testimony resumes today.