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Suspect in 'heinous' killing deemed incompetent to stand trial

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VENICE — The man accused in the April 2021 “heinous” homicide at a South Venice motel has been deemed incompetent to stand trial.

Stephen Havrilka, 31, was charged with the slaying of Tina Strader and has been in Sarasota County Jail since the April 20, 2021 attack.

“I’m not really surprised, I’m just heartbroken for her,” said Gerald Strader, the widower of Tina Strader.

Tina Strader, 46, was working for the Rodeway Inn while living at the facility with her husband at the time. The hotel at South Tamiami Trail and Shamrock Drive has since been renamed Travelodge.

At the time, authorities said the killing was among the worst they’d experienced. Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman called Havrilka “an animal.”

On Wednesday, the court ruled Havrilka was incompetent to stand trial, which was supposed to begin Monday.

“I’m pretty devastated,” Strader said.

In March, a psychologist told court officials Havrilka may not be competent for trial.

“Mr. Havrilka was able to engage me,” clinical psychologist Karim Yamont wrote in a court document. “However, he was mentally quite disorganized due to his psychiatric illness. He did not present as capable of engaging in a lucid and productive conversation or to think clearly. As a result, I have doubts about his competency to proceed.”

Following Yamout’s comments, court-appointed experts were appointed to further evaluate Havrilka’s competency.

In a hearing Wednesday, Havrilka was officially deemed incompetent to stand trial, according to a disposition.

Havrilka’s defense attorney Marc Gilman said the court ordered Havrilka to be sent to the State Hospital for “competency restoration.”

“He will remain in custody until being transferred to the hospital,” Gilman told The Daily Sun in a late Wednesday email.

Through a victim’s advocacy program, Strader was told Havrilka would remain in a hospital facility until he was deemed competent to stand trial.

Throughout the process, Strader stayed informed on the case and even witnessed Havrilka’s court hearings, who he said was kept in an enclosed glass case.

“The only thing I’ve ever heard him tell a judge was ‘F-you’,” Strader said.

Havrilka has a long list of charges in the past, spending time in prison for burglary, battery on an elderly person and intimidation on charges based out of Sarasota and Charlotte counties.

Since the homicide of Strader, Havrilka has faced additional charges on alleged crimes inside Sarasota County Jail, including battery on officers and criminal property damage of more than $1,000.

With Wednesday’s ruling, Strader said he was overwhelmed with emotions again — things he had held back for a long time.

“There’s just not justice for her,” Strader said. “I don’t want her memory to die.”


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