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. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  2. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  3. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  4. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says


    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  5. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale


    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.