EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series on the top stories in Pasco County during 2013 as selected by The Pasco Tribune staff.
NEW PORT RICHEY — John Sexton became the first man to receive a death sentence in Pasco County since 2011 after he was convicted of mutilating and killing a New Port Richey woman in 2010.
Sexton, 49, had been hired by Ann Parlato, 94, to cut her lawn on several occasions.
On Sept. 22, 2010, Parlato was murdered inside her New Port Richey home. Evidence, such as Parlato’s DNA on Sexton’s cuticles, his cigarette butts and ashes in her home and her blood on his clothing, led to his arrest and subsequent conviction by a jury in April.
Sexton, in a recording played for jurors during four days of testimony, expressed surprise at the news she was dead. Sexton was questioned by Pasco sheriff’s detectives the day after the killing.
“Oh wow,” Sexton said in the recording. “Wow. Horrible. I kind of liked her.”
The jury recommended Sexton be sentenced to death during the penalty phase in May. In December, Circuit Judge Mary Handsel agreed.
Maryanne Parlato, Ann Parlato’s daughter, addressed Sexton’s actions in a letter.
“I wish you could personally experience the pain you inflicted on her,” the letter says. “But the next best solution, so to speak, is to condemn you to death. It seems the easy way out for you, but we are, after all, civilized people.”
On Sept. 23, 2010, Dori Cifelli entered Ann Parlato’s home and found her friend’s body on the floor in the living room, covered by a sheet. Parlato had been beaten, raped with an object and her body mutilated and partially burned.
Parlato’s neighbors said they heard a loud thud that night. When they went outside to investigate, they saw Sexton’s blue 2000 Dodge pickup in Parlato’s driveway. Sexton later was seen from a window standing at the kitchen sink.
The neighbors wrote down the license plate number of the truck, which led authorities to Sexton.