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Jury convicts child molester of trying to have aunt killed

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Published:   |   Updated: April 4, 2014 at 04:04 PM

CLEARWATER — David Tyler, who had spent more than 25 years in prison in Ohio for raping and stalking boys, didn’t like life behind bars.

When he was arrested again in St. Petersburg in June 2011, on charges of stalking a 13-year-old boy, he asked to have his $200,000 bond reduced so he could go free until trial.

But Tyler’s aunt, Fanny Bear, advised a judge against that, considering her nephew’s history, and he remained incarcerated.

For that, Tyler wanted her dead and turned to a fellow inmate at the Pinellas County Jail to find someone for the job, prosecutors argued during a four-day trial this week.

On Thursday, a jury agreed.

After deliberating about 3½ hours, jurors convicted Tyler, now 56, of solicitation to commit murder. As a habitual violent offender, he faces a sentence ranging from 15 years to life.

Tyler is scheduled to be sentenced on May 23.

“I never, ever thought someone could be so vile and so evil,” Fanny Bear, 69, told Circuit Judge Philip Federico on Thursday.

Within a few days of his bond hearing, Tyler had befriended inmate Daniel Kern.

Tyler told Kern he contemplated killing himself in front of Fanny Bear’s house to haunt her, the records say. Then he came up with a plan to have her killed while he was in jail, court records say.

Tyler and Kern often communicated by passing hand-written notes back and forth, and Kern, a confidential informant with 32 felony convictions, eventally contacted authorities and gave Tyler’s notes to them, court records say.

“Please eradicate her or have her eradicated,” one said.

The crux of the case against him was in those letters and a recorded telephone call Tyler made to someone he thought was a prospective hit-man — but who was actually a Pinellas Sheriff’s detective working with Kern, Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser told jurors.

For the murder, the hit-man could help himself to more than $10,000 worth of jewelry and other belongings he would find in Fanny Bear’s St. Petersburg home, Rosenwasser said.

Tyler’s attorney Deb Moss told jurors that Kern, the inmate, was a professional jail house snitch who set Tyler up in the hope he could get a break on a pending case. In March, four months before he and Tyler started communicating, Kern pleaded guilty to attempted strong-armed robbery, and in August, after he began cooperating with sheriff’s detectives, he was sentenced to five years — the lowest possible punishment.

Tyler moved to Florida in 2009 after serving a 25-year sentence in Ohio for raping a boy under 13. He had also served time for stalking teen boys.

In St. Petersburg, he was arrested on a charge of aggravated stalking after he began texting, calling and emailing a 13-year-old boy he had met at the pier in Pass-A-Grille in June 2011, according to a St. Petersburg police report.

It was the arrest on that charge — plus one, later, on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender — that put Tyler in the position of asking a judge to lower his bond from $200,000. Later, his bond was revoked.

sthompson@tampatrib.com.

(727) 215-6504.

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