BROOKSVILLE - An appeals court has overturned the life sentence of a Ridge Manor man convicted of the first-degree murder of his father in 2011. According to the Fifth District Court of Appeals, detectives questioning Stephen Horne should have stopped their interview after Horne said several times "I'm done talking" and asked to go home.
Horne was 19 when his father, Ivan Horne was shot multiple times with a shotgun in his upper body on May 4, 2010.
Prosecutors and law enforcement believe Horne, now 22, lured his father from Tampa to Hernando County to steal his oxycodone pills.
The 47-year old's body was found the following morning by a woman driving along Otter Drive in Ridge Manor Estates.
In the 2011 trial, jurors watched a three hour interrogation video, during which Horne told three different versions of what happened, and initially blamed his good friend for killing his father.
"I killed my father," Horne eventually told Detective Bryan Faulkingham. "You think I'm wrong for that?"
In his confession, Horne revealed resentment for his drug-addicted father because he abandoned him and his mother, a felon who had recently been released from prison. Along with an accomplice, Angel Gonzalez, Ivan Horne was driven to an abandoned house, believing he could sell the oxycodone pills there. When Ivan Horne got out, his son shot him in the back, then three more times, with a short-barrel shotgun, according to the confession. Horne said he then took $640 and 22 pills from Horne's pocket and divided them with Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison in 2011.
A December opinion filed by the Fifth District Court of Appeals, however, finds fault with jurors viewing the taped confession in the first place.
The opinion shows that although Horne initially agreed to talk to the detectives, the interview should have been ended after Horne repeatedly said he was done talking and asked to go home.
The opinion shows that Detective Loydgren "properly terminated the interrogation only to have Detective Faulkingham improperly start it again without obtaining a waiver to Horne's reasserted right of silence."
The appellate court also found the during the trial, Judge Daniel Merritt Sr. should have granted the defense's motion to suppress the confession since "there was a reasonable possibility the error affected the verdict."
Horne, who was recently transferred from state prison back to the Hernando County Jail, was arraigned in front of Judge Stephen Toner on Tuesday.
The Office of the Public Defender was assigned to represent Horne. Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino said that during Horne's 2011 trial, the public defender and regional conflict office were not able to represent Horne because of conflicts.
Frank Bankowitz, the Orlando attorney who filed Horne's appeal, was no longer representing Horne, according to Magrino.
Magrino said he is ready to re-try the case "whenever the court and council are ready."
A trial date is scheduled for Feb. 24.
Horne's lesser convictions of robbery with a gun and possessing an illegal weapon were also overturned pending a new trial, according to the appeals court.