Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In beating death of Pasco homeless man, both suspects claim innocence

HUDSON — While the sun was setting over U.S. 19 on Saturday, a bottle of Captain Morgan rum made its way around a homeless camp. Leonard Vernon Gregory wandered down a path through the scrub forest and joined the circle of friends. They passed the bottle and words. Later that evening, authorities would find Gregory, 45, on the ground, gurgling blood with severe brain trauma. He died Monday morning.

Deputies arrested two men Saturday night — Colby Lee Davis, 36, and Richard Smorschok, 39 — on charges of attempted murder. Those charges were upgraded to second-degree murder Monday evening. In a jail interview with the Tampa Bay Times, both denied the accusations.

A Pasco sheriff's report states that Davis accused Gregory of sleeping with his girlfriend. Davis, who has about 30 pounds on Gregory, slugged the other man, the report states. Gregory got up to leave. Davis and Smorschok followed. They beat him, then stomped on his head until he stopped moving, the report states.

The drinking circle scattered, leaving Gregory for dead. A witness called Gregory's sister, who called 911. An ambulance took Gregory to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point with blood on the brain. Deputies found Davis and Smorschok near the homeless camp, north of State 52 along U.S. 19.

Gregory had a home address listed when he was arrested in 2011 on a charge of petty theft. Since then, he had become homeless. None of Gregory's family could be reached Tuesday.

Davis, who had been found guilty mostly on trespassing and disorderly conduct charges in the past, said Smorschok told him to do something about the betrayal or he would. Davis said he was too drunk to stand, but watched Smorschok beat Gregory mercilessly.

"I didn't beat anybody up," Davis said. "I never had any problem with Leo."

At the news of Gregory's death, Smorschok swallowed and folded cuffed hands in the jail. Most of his convictions in Pasco County are for fraud, burglary and battery. He wasn't at the camp, which belongs to a man known only as Uncle Sam, that night, he said, and doesn't know what happened there.

He and Davis became best friends after they fell on hard times in recent years and went to live in the woods. In a community of about 50, he said, rumors of infidelity crop up all the time.

Smorschok said he and Davis befriended Gregory during nights with bottles of Skol vodka from the Walmart closest to their woods. They came to know Gregory as a man who was ugly to strangers, loyal to friends and who carried a hint of a Creole accent from New Orleans, his birthplace.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Alex Orlando can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

In beating death of Pasco homeless man, both suspects claim innocence 09/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 23, 2013 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.