July 11, 2008

New live trial set for In Session next week

Posted: 01:56 PM ET

TAMPA, Florida–I'm here in Tampa, Florida getting ready for our new live trial live, beginning early next week. It is the tragic case of 13-year-old Stephen Tomlinson, who was found beaten and strangled to death in a park close to his home.

His neighbor and then 19-year-old youth pastor, Joshua Rosa, has been charged with first-degree murder and is facing life in prison.

I sat down with Stephen's father, Ron Tomlinson, as he told me how he jumped into his car, drove to the park and found little Stephen dead with his shorts pulled down, just a few blocks from his home in December 2005.

The horror, shock and trauma that Tomlinson says he continues to live day in and day out now culminates with a trial of the person Tomlinson trusted with his son.

According to the defense, Rosa would be the last person anyone would suspect of committing murder. Witnesses say they saw Rosa running from the park, but Rosa says he discovered his young friend's lifeless body and was only trying to get help.

This circumstantial case will likely hinge on witness testimony and forensics. Stay tuned to In Session for all the latest developments.

–Jean Casarez, In Session correspondent

Filed under: Trials

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Frankie Bones   July 11th, 2008 5:01 pm ET

Will the In Session message board be up and running for this live trial? Sounds like an exciting trial. Lots of unanswered questions such as....
Why was Rosa carrying gloves and nail clippers if he was dressed in a tank top for jogging in the park?

Were the keys found 'under' the body?

Lynn H. Allen   July 11th, 2008 11:32 pm ET

I watch, I hurt a little for all the people that have been so horribly wronged. The legal system seems to be more for the defendant than they are for the Victim. Evidence not submitted because it is predjudicial, come on, when an accused stands before the Bar Of Justice, the Jury should have the right to know they have 54 prior arreasts or whatever.

So what will we hear at this trial, another lame iNSANITY dEFENSE.


A Camp   July 12th, 2008 12:30 pm ET

Is there no end to all these child predators and killers ? I think nowadays parents have to be suspicious of anyone who takes any kind of interest in their children . Predators seem to hide behind the cloak of ' religion ' , 'ministry', whatever you want to call it . With all the information about these types of crimes out in the open , parents need to take heed . DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN BE ALONE WITH ANYBODY INVOLVED IN ANY KIND OF 'religion' . WAKE UP !!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S UP TO YOU TO PROTECT THEM !!!

damron7467   July 12th, 2008 9:38 pm ET

Religious personnel are no more trustworthy than anyone else including family members. Child Rapists hide in advantageous areas – schools, church, family members and friends. Have we not learned that NO ONE can be trusted with our children!!!!!!!!

Lisa Hamilton   July 12th, 2008 9:44 pm ET

You are a fabulous and very fair reporter!!!! You will get to the truth even if they don't! Plus, you are a personal friend of Nancy Grace so I KNOW you are terrific!!!!! Good luck!

Carolyn Baker   July 14th, 2008 7:44 am ET

I am looking forward to watching this trial. Jean, you do such a wonderful job. I think you are the greatest.

Keri   July 14th, 2008 10:56 am ET

I'm in Tampa watching the trial, this should be very interesting to see how it all plays out.

Debra Seal-Shaw   July 14th, 2008 12:26 pm ET

I totally am insulted by the negative comment made about the Penecostal Religion. I am 52 years old and I was raised in such a church. There is nothing weird or strange about the laying on of hands, the hugging. Jesus did all these things. I would much rather spend my time in a church where you can feel the love and the Spirit of Christ, than in a church where you can do no more than fall asleep! Don't knock it until you try it. We have bad people in all religions. That doesn't make the religion bad!!! Debbie

helen somers   July 15th, 2008 11:40 am ET

something doesn't add up, did anyone ever ask josuha rose to take a lie detector test. .i know they can't use it in court. but maybe his lawyer can use it for leverage.

V Hatfield   July 15th, 2008 12:37 pm ET

Rosa came out of the woods, stating there was a hurt or dead boy in the woods. He had a flashlight and knew the dead boy in the woods, he was face up!!
How come Josh didn't ever mention that the boy in the woods was Stephen... when he came running to the group of boys for help or asking for a cell phone?
Very suspicious..Josh didn't recognize the dead kid...he was at his house, belonged to the same church..he's quilty of somethng...

T. Porter   July 15th, 2008 12:38 pm ET

How can the authorities trust witnesses that admit they were going to the park to get high and drunk? Especially if they were high and drunk at the time?

J Philip Miller   July 15th, 2008 2:50 pm ET

The defense let in that is at best requires a ruling. The fireman/EMT testifies in his uniform lending a false theme of expertise. This is prejudicial. As a retired fireman & EMT myself, that EMT testified that he did not want to disturb a crime scene. This is way beyond his expertise to determine in his testimony. It was allowed in without objection. In hundreds of calls myself and my department responded to, that crime scene idea was chatted in private way after the call and even then the deputy or detective informed us of that conclusion days or a week afterwards. The on scene protocol is ABC. Airway, breathing and circulation. The conclusion we come to is only conscious, unconscious or apparently deceased. The "disturbing the crime scene" is only on TV or by direction of law enforcement. Every scene is littered with bandage papers, intubation packages, and so forth. The leads for vitals show that they were very busy and that the patient was alive or nearly so. Yet, not one objection and agreeing to allow that testimony by someone in uniform by someone who didn't write the report. Very poor counsel for the Defendant. Appeal of inadequate counsel has to be granted.

Sheila Carl   July 18th, 2008 10:30 am ET

Could it be possible that Stephen's pants were pulled down, not for any sexual purpose, but to keep him from running?

Second question: Was Joshua given a lie detector test? Even if it can't be used in court, just for satisfaction for his family, those of his Church, and Stephen's family.

Mary V.   July 18th, 2008 3:44 pm ET

Do these Prosecutors ever think they could be wrong? Mainly in the case against Joshua Rosa... It is ALL circumstancial and YET the Prosecutor wants to make something out of little or nothing. Why didn't they look into the other people in the park? The gays! The drug addicts? NO! They had an idiot who hung around instead of running AWAY from the place. How about the young people that showed up in the car? Don't people who commit crimes go back to the location? Why do they have to pick on the Youth Pastor? Trying to proof something other than evidence on this case?

Hanaa   July 18th, 2008 4:55 pm ET

How often do we here that usually the last person to see the victim, is the killer. Rosa was with the victim an hour an a half before his death....that is some coincidence, that the defense wants us to believe that in that timeframe Stephen met up with someone else who killed him..nope not buying it. Also evidence shows that Stephen put up a helluva fight for his life, Rosa's mother testifed that Rosa stand's about 5'7 or 5'8 and weighs about 130lbs at the time he was arrested....that would make sense why so much force was used because the killer was not a big man and could not control the victim easily....Oh and who goes jogging with white cloth gloves on?

Rosa should have stated that it was accidental, that he and Stephen were wrestling or practicing karate moves as even the father had stated he has observed in the past, and things got out of hand..that he had no intention of killing his "Friend".....maybe than the jury would have had some pity....uh oh..hhhmmm...still kind of hard to explain why the victim's pants were down....but still something is better than nothing....Motive?.....we hear how convicted killer's say there motive was..." I just wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody".....does motive really matter in a killing like this...No!

j pierson   July 21st, 2008 12:48 pm ET

It's obvious to me that Rosa is innocent! What a terrible world we now live in. The real bad people get let out of jail and get to kill again and again! And the really good guys get convicted of things they did not even do!!!!!!! What a terrible waste this is. There was trouble in that park previously and it seems no one is going after those people. And did anyone think about the' Friends' Steven was meeting later in the park after he left Rosa at 5:30? No, I guess not. Well, shame on those that convict the innocent!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will be praying for this innocent young man and praying for both families who have lost their loved ones. I am literally crying, actually sobbing, on my couch today over this terrible injustice! Sorrowing, J Pierson

Guy   July 23rd, 2008 7:16 pm ET

Joshua was alledgedly jogging. Why did nobody mention what clothes he was wearing when the police arrived. Was he wearing a jogging outfit? Jogging shoes? or Jeans and civilian clothes? Also, Joshua dropped his keys while joggins? Who goes joggins in between trees in woods. Anybody that jogs knows that is just good enough to strain an ankle. why would he go off the park to jogg into woods? Also, what were the keys from? House? car? if he keys were from the house, how did he get back in the house to get the flash light? He said, "I just want to go get my dad". This means, dad was home. And if dad was home, why did dad not know that Johua was out in the woods trying to find his keys since he must have returned back from "jogging" to get the flash light. This is not a tiny flash light you go jogging with to see where you are going. This was a big thing!

Shirley   August 19th, 2008 4:24 pm ET

Three things DNA was not Joshua Rosa's it was of spanish desent 1 in 12 if it was his it would have been his DNA we can do that now, next they said there was NO sexualy assault his outer pants where pulled down does anyone know what gang members do to keep their victom from running THEY PULL THEIR PANTS DOWN TOO THEIR ANKELS SO THEY CAN NOT RUN this is something that the police did not check out Stephen's brother had been sent away because of boys beating up on him gang members it sounds like to me and I believe that they are the ones who killed him they could not get his brother so they got him POOR WORK ON THE POLICE DEPARTMENTS JOB this man he not guilty

Karen Bowling   October 12th, 2009 10:47 am ET

During his opening statement, the defense attorney's di rect and repeated accusations that Pitman was guilty of killing his wife. was ingenuis. INstead of being viewed as the grieving widow and victim of a violent crime, he is being scrutinized by gallery and the and and Instead of being viewed as a grieving victim of a horrific murder. ,That smart opening resulted in turning the attention away from Hughs and instead virtually put Pittman on trial for murder instead.

Karen Bowling   October 12th, 2009 12:28 pm ET

In his opening statement, the defense attorney maintained that it was not the defendant, Hughs, who was guilty of brutally murdering the expectant fiancee of Ron Pitmans. During opening remarks, the defence attorney did not hesitate to directly and boldly implecate Ron Pittman as sole actor in the premeditated murderof Avis Bankman.
Generally the testimony of a widowed young father ( to be) would invoke sympathy from the jury.
However, because of the powerful opening statement by the defense, when Pittman approached the bench to testify as a states witness, he found the focus of the case had changed a bit. He found himself ,unofficially ( for now ) ,on trial for 1st degree murder.
Hats off to the genius strategy of the defense!!!!

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