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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Two men cleared in unrelated May shootings


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The State Attorney's Office has declines to press charges in two unrelated shooting deaths May 23 in Spring Hill and Weeki Wachee, respectively.

Michael Alexander Challis, 34, was shot in the area of 6991 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill around 12:30 a.m. and died from his injuries.

A memo written by Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino shows a dispute started between Challis and Christopher Asciolla, after Asciolla let his small dog out into the front lawn and Challis approached with his larger dog, yelling and saying, "My dog will eat yours."

Asciolla went in his house and shut the door, the memo shows, and Challis continued yelling and banging on the front door at 6991 Pinehurst.

After Asciolla confronted Challis with a gun and told him to leave, a struggle started between Asciolla's father, Robert Asciolla, who was also armed, and Challis.

Christopher Asciolla said he shot Challis after he heard a gunshot and thought his father had been shot. Challis then took Robert Asciolla's handgun, and shot at the men multiple times as he ran away.

An autopsy showed Challis died of the gunshot wound and had a .252 blood alcohol level and cocaine in his system.

Magrino wrote in his memo he did not find "sufficient evidence" to charge Asciolla with murder or manslaughter.

The second shooting May 23 occurred around 8 p.m. at 8743 Ostrom Way in Weeki Wachee, when Joshua Harth, 24, shot George Avedissian, 68.

Harth told sheriff's detectives he was renting a room from Avedissian and was sleeping that evening when his landlord started banging on his bedroom door. Avedissian was upset by an open can of soup left in the kitchen, Harth said, and a verbal altercation escalated when Avedissian came back in Harth's room and pointed a rifle at him.

A struggle over the gun led to Avedissian being shot by the 9 mm carbine rifle, the investigation showed.

An autopsy showed Avedissian had two gunshot wounds, and a blood alcohol level of .109.

Magrino wrote he did not think there was not enough evidence to charge Harth.

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