TAMPA (FOX 13) - Weeks away from going to trial, defendant Keith Dukes got a big win in court. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Samantha Ward ruled a portion of a key 911 call will be redacted.
The call was made by Dukes’ 14-year-old daughter Michaela, whom prosecutors say had just witnessed her father gun down her mother.
Prosecutor Kim Hindman explained a portion of the call to the judge. "When Michaela Dukes realizes she is covered in her mother’s blood and she is telling that 911 operator 'Oh my God, it’s on my face, it’s on my jacket! It’s even on my pants.”
The defense argued it was too prejudicial, but the prosecutors disagreed and said it was relevant to showing premeditation. The judge agreed with the defense.
"This isn't going to turn into a horror story about what these girls were experiencing, that’s not what he's charged with. He's charged with first degree murder," said Judge Ward.
Three years ago, prosecutor say, Dukes hunted down his estranged wife in front of their three children. They say Michelle Dukes, with her throat slit from ear to ear, made a run for her life. Her kids were not far behind.
Michelle and the kids were able to hide in a neighbor’s bedroom, but not for long. They say Dukes forced his way into the home and punched a hole in the wall, then shot his wife three times.
Now, at least some of that horror and trauma that Dukes’ children endured that day will never be heard by a jury.
“It creates a whole sympathy effect," explained Judge Ward.
The trial is set for mid-April.