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Jury Recommends Death For Partin

NEW PORT RICHEY - The man who beat, slashed and strangled 16-year-old Joshan Ashbrook should suffer the death penalty for his crime, a jury decided Wednesday. Joshan Ashbrook The same 12 jurors who on Tuesday convicted Phillup Alan Partin of first-degree murder in the 2002 slaying made their recommendation after learning that Partin had killed before.
The panel deliberated about two hours before announcing it had voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty. Circuit Judge William R. Webb, who by law must give the jury's recommendation "great weight," scheduled sentencing for June 20. Tara Ramsdell said she remains torn over Partin's fate. "I'm Joshan's mother, so I say kill him," Ramsdell said after the jury made its recommendation. "I'm kind of torn. Yes, I want the death penalty. He killed my daughter, but there are other people to consider." Specifically, Ramsdell named Partin's daughter, Patrisha, who was 7 when she and her father came across Ashbrook hitchhiking along U.S. 19 on July 31, 2002. "No matter what he did to my daughter, she [Patrisha Partin] still has a life and she still loves her father," Ramsdell said. Ramsdell said she, her eight surviving children and 15 grandchildren want to know why Partin killed the teenage runaway and how he could be so loving toward his own daughter while being so cruel to someone else's. Her eldest grandchild, who is old enough to have known Ashbrook, keeps asking, "'Why did the bad guy kill Auntie YoYo?'" Ramsdell said. Patrisha Partin, who spent the day of July 31, 2002 fishing and playing video games with Ashbrook, testified briefly Wednesday via a videotape made several years ago. Patrisha Partin told defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand that a drawing of a hand that her father sent her was a sign of his love. "Your dad wanted me to show this to you," Brunvand told the girl on the snippet of tape that Prosecutor Michael Halkitis agreed could be shown as mitigation against the death penalty. Partin refused to acknowledge questions from the judge and said through Brunvand that he did not want to testify on his own behalf during Wednesday's proceeding. Partin also objected to any evidence being gathered that might persuade Webb to spare his life. The only other testimony the defense presented during the trial's penalty phase came in the form of a videotape of Partin's former girlfriend, who said she never would have taken up with him had she known about his past. Part of that history was revealed to jurors for the first time early Wednesday when a Miami-Dade police detective testified about Partin's second-degree murder conviction for the 1987 slaying of a man Partin met at a gay bar on Biscayne Boulevard. Lt. Dan Barrago testified that Partin wanted to know the difference between first- and second-degree murder during an interview following his arrest. Partin went on to describe how he worked as a hustler, letting gay men pick him up and take him home so he would have a place to sleep and take a shower the next morning, the detective testified. He met his victim, Gary Thorne, while playing pool at a lounge, Barrago recalled Partin telling him. When they got to Thorne's home and Thorne began making advances, Partin said, he first choked and then strangled the victim with a telephone cord, Barrago testified. Partin, who showed no emotion when the jury's recommendation was announced, has expressed both fear of and the desire for the death penalty during his years awaiting trial. At his first hearing after detectives tracked him down in North Carolina in 2003, Partin dropped his shirt to reveal a tattoo across his back bearing the state motto of New Hampshire, "Live free or die." In taped interviews with detectives, he sometimes expressed concerns that he would be put to death in the Ashbrook case. Ramsdell said she doubts Partin will be comfortable in prison should Webb decide to spare his life. "I don't think the general population [other inmates] will approve of what he did to my daughter," she said. Also Wednesday, Ramsdell provided The Tampa Tribune with a CD of a song that Ashbrook wrote along with older stepsister Katrina Ramsdell. Ashbrook was about 12 when she recorded the song, titled "Wanna," her mother said. Keyword: Joshan, to hear the song Joshan Ashbrook co-wrote.

Reporter David Sommer can be reached at (727) 815-1087 or [email protected]

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