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Saturday, Aug 02, 2014

Documents released in case of Army major accused in Clearwater slaying

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CLEARWATER – U.S. Army Maj. Roman Izzo researched .45-caliber revolvers on his computer before his wife’s ex-husband was found shot and stabbed to death in Clearwater in 2011, court records show.

He also looked up the average time it took authorities to respond to a 911 call, the documents, made public Monday, show.

And he searched for information on how to break into homes, ultimately using a technique favored by firefighters trying to force their way in for a rescue, according to the documents.

Those were a few details in the case against Izzo, who was extradited to Pinellas County last week from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Izzo, 35, faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his wife’s ex-husband, Vincent Edward Lee, 43, who was found inside his Clearwater condominium at 3151 Landmark Drive on Nov. 16, 2011.

The newly-released court documents say Lee was shot five times, stabbed ten times and had his throat slit. Izzo is accused of breaking into the condominium by taking a propane gas tank from a grill on the porch and smashing the rear sliding-glass door with it — a technique favored by firefighters.

Detectives with the Clearwater Police Department largely built their case against Izzo by going through the computers he used at work and at home.

At the time Lee was killed, his former wife Jodi — and Izzo’s new wife — was trying to persuade a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge to let her take her two children from her previous marriage out of state, to be with her and Izzo.

The court documents indicate she was also trying to have more children with Izzo.

She had had two miscarriages before her ex-husband was killed, and was pregnant with a third baby at the time of his death, the court records show. Her new husband “associated these miscarriages with the stress” of the custody battle, according to the records.

In the custody battle’s first round, Jodi Izzo tried to persuade Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge Thomas Minkoff to let her take the two children to Kentucky because Izzo was stationed at Fort Knox and later to Columbus, Ga., because Izzo was stationed at Fort Benning.

Minkoff denied the Kentucky request, and the Georgia request was pending when Lee was killed.

“The former wife’s primary reason for the relocation is for herself and her new husband and not the children,” Minkoff wrote in a court order. “Given the military employment of the wife’s new husband, recurrent locations are to be reasonably anticipated.

“It was not the expectation of the former husband or the children to live a military lifestyle,” Minkoff wrote.

Among the computer equipment and files acquired by Clearwater detectives were Roman Izzo’s work computer, his home computer in Columbus, and several Micro SD cards, according to the court documents.

Within a month of one of Jodi Izzo’s custody requests, which was ultimately denied, Roman Izzo asked a friend, Maj. Brian Oberg, to buy a “practical homicide investigation” book, the court documents state.

Izzo didn’t want any record of having bought such a book, but he eventually had to purchase it himself, the records state.

One month after one of his wife’s miscarriages, he texted a friend, looking for someone to hurt Lee, the documents say. He wanted someone to “kill the son of a bitch,” according to the records.

During Izzo’s computer searches, he looked up information on .45-caliber handguns, which was the type used in Lee’s death, according to the records. No shell casings were found, indicating the weapon of choice was a revolver.

Though Izzo turned off his cell phone the night of the murder, detectives found he began travelling south, from Columbus, before the slaying, and north, after it. The trip one-way takes 6 1/2 hours, and investigators believe Izzo drove to Florida, killed Lee, then drove back.

Then, when he returned to work, he did multiple computer searches for news coming out of Clearwater, even before Lee was found dead.

After the murder, Izzo also did computer searches on how long it takes to test DNA, what life in prison was really like, and what it took for someone to be convicted of murder during a trial.

sthompson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-6504.

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