Jury recommends death for Kalisz

John Kalisz is escorted to chambers for a conference after the jury was selected for his capital murder trial in Judge Daniel Merritt Sr.'s courtroom in Brooksville, Fla., on Jan. 18. (AP)

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:36 p.m.

BROOKSVILLE — A jury has unanimously recommended a death sentence for the man who received a life sentence last year after pleading guilty to killing Dixie County sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed.

A Hernando County jury gave its recommendation Thursday in the case in which 57-year-old John Kalisz was convicted in Hernando County of killing his sister and another woman. A judge will make the final decision.

The jury had convicted Kalisz on Monday of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of armed burglary.

Authorities say Kalisz killed his sister, Kathryn Donovan, and her office manager, Deborah Tillotson, and wounded two others at a Brooksville home in January 2010. Later the same day, as he fled north from authorities, he killed Capt. Reed in a shootout in Cross City.

Kalisz is already serving the life sentence for killing Reed, who was shot trying to arrest Kalisz that day two years ago.

Reed's wife, Holly, had agreed to the life sentence because she wanted to spare her two young sons from a painful trial and years of appeals. Mrs. Reed did say Thursday she believed the recommendation of a death sentence was just. She said she considered driving down for the proceedings but decided not to.

"It's so stressful," she said, "just being in the same room with him."

As the verdict approached Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Reed said people asked if it was an especially hard day.

"Today was nothing compared with what we live with every day," she said. "It's a constant reminder when you look at your children."

The Associated Press and Tampa Bay Times reporter John Cox contributed to this report.

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