Rape, murder of 21-year-old woman in Riverview goes to trial

- Prosecutors say Meaghan was drunk, Gonzalez knew it, and he took advantage of it.

"He approached her put his arm around her, followed her and she stumbled around," explained Harmon.

They say Gonzalez left the bar with Meaghan and drove her to a secluded area. To his surprise, a sheriff's deputy pulled up and parked behind them.

After checking out Gonzalez, the deputy checked on Meaghan.

"She told him, 'I'm okay,'" said Harmon.

A garbage truck driver on his morning route made a horrific discovery over three years ago - the lifeless body of  21-year-old Meaghan Casady dumped on the side of the road just behind a strip mall in Riverview.

In opening statements, Hillsborough assistant state prosecutor Scott Harmon told the jury that the defendant, Jose Gonzalez did it.

"It was that defendant that brutally raped and murdered her," said Harmon.

But hours earlier, Meaghan had been on a casual date with Alex Ponce. The two planned dinner and a movie at his house, but close to midnight, he says the two had a fight.

Meghan stormed off and headed to a neighborhood bar. Surveillance video shows her there.

And with that, he allowed the two to leave. Harmon says hours later Meaghan would be dead and all evidence points to Gonzalez.

Harmon says his DNA was found under fingernails and on her body. Even his sunglasses and case, with his fingerprints all over it, were found at the crime scene.

The defense didn't refute it. In fact, they decided not to say anything at all during opening statements.

The trial is expected to last all week.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Rape, murder of 21-year-old woman in Riverview goes to trial
  • Christmas in July benefits young patients
  • Elderly bystander injured in St. Pete shooting
  • Water main break creates hole in apartment complex
  • Woman injured in Clearwater house fire
  • Alert issued for missing man
  • Four years later and thousands of miles away, murder suspect nabbed
  • iGun inventor shows off 'smart' gun
  • Tampa water parks, pools get sunscreen dispensers
  • Boozy snow cones, ice cream-filled doughnuts at Datz Dough