Joshua Rosa’s trial begins today
Opening arguments started today in the case against Joshua Rosa, who faces a first-degree murder charge in the Dec. 8, 2005, strangulation of a 13-year-old Citrus Park boy.
Prosecutor Christopher Moody said that when Stephen Tomlinson’s body was found at Logan Gate Park in northwest Hillsborough County, his pants were down and his nose and the front of his shirt were bloody.
Tomlinson’s blood was found on Rosa’s shoes, hands and pants, Moody said. DNA samples from fingernail clippers Rosa was carrying also matched the boy’s. At the time, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said the clippers likely were used to remove evidence.
Rosa, now 22, told detectives in 2005 that he found Tomlinson’s body when he returned to an area to find keys he lost while jogging. Detectives say they found Rosa’s keys under Tomlinson’s body.
Tomlinson lived two blocks from the park where his body was found. Rosa lived across the street from Tomlinson.
Brian Gonzalez, Rosa’s defense attorney, strongly disagreed with the state’s version of events and said the case against his client is based on circumstantial evidence.
“He tried to help Stephen Tomlinson. In retrospect, the decision he made served to complicate matters more,” Gonzalez said.
Tomlinson lived two blocks from the park where his body was found. Rosa lived across the street from Tomlinson. The families of Rosa and Tomlinson attended Mount Zion Pentecostal Church, where Rosa was a youth minister.
Gonzalez said Rosa had played video games with the 13-year-old and they had hung out together. On the day Tomlinson’s body was found, the pair chatted, Gonzalez said.
The two went their separate ways, and Rosa didn’t see the boy again until he found the body, Gonzalez said.
The defense said Rosa will not admit guilt and the prosecution won’t be able to provide witnesses to a crime.
Gonzalez asked the jury to keep an open mind, presume innocence and pay close attention to inconsistencies in testimonies.
“Keep in mind as you listen to the evidence that one in the hand is not always as good as two in the bush,” Gonzalez said.