Fate of accused deadly drug dealer sits in hands of Tampa jury

A Tampa jury is now deciding the fate of accused drug dealer Joseph Stillitano.  

However, they couldn’t reach a verdict after three hours and will continue their deliberations Thursday morning.

Prosecutors told the jury that on June 16, 2020, 29-year-old Joshua Sutphin died of a drug overdose, and they say Stillitano sold him the deadly dose. 

There are cell phone text exchanges between Stillitano and Sutphin about a drug buy the day he died, according to prosecutors. They also said there were funds transferred by Sutphin to a money app connected to Stillitano.

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Prosecutors explained Sutphin was struggling with drug addiction, but he was in a treatment program and had just completed it a day before the fatal overdose. 

One of the baggies with red dice that has become a key piece of evidence 

Prosecutor Zoe Fisher says, later, Stillitano was driving Sutphin’s car when police pulled him over.  He also had drugs in his pocket.

"Those tiny baggies had a red dice on them, the same red dice pattern that was found in the trash can of Josh and Christie’s home," explained Fisher.  

A crime scene investigator testified that she found the baggie with the red dice patterns and collected it for evidence.

The Medical examiner determined Sutphin died from a lethal mix of heroin and fentanyl, but Hillsborough Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer doesn’t think prosecutors can prove the fatal dose came from Stillitano since she says Sutphin was also buying drugs from other dealers.

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Schlemmer says there are text messages confirming Sutphin was reaching out to his old drug dealer, David, days before his death.

"There is no connection whatsoever that Mr. Stillitano sold the victim any fentanyl at all," argued Schlemmer.

The jury will continue weighing the evidence Thursday morning.