TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It still just doesn’t make sense.
The disappearance and presumed death of attorney Steven Cozzi has left many in the legal community with questions.
Now, we’re hearing from another attorney, Jake Pillsbury, who was working with Cozzi on the civil case that police believe may be connected to the alleged crime.
Mr. Pillsbury was Cozzi’s co-counsel. On the other side, a local doctor that had filed the lawsuit.
Police say that doctor, Tomasz Kosowski, killed Cozzi.
“You felt like you guys were about to win this case?” asked Saeidi.
“We were winning,” Pillsbury replied.
“He never came across as emotional one way or another,” Pillsbury said of Kosowski. “The way that he was on that call was pretty standard for him.”
On March 21, Cozzi and Pillsbury had a virtual court hearing. Their clients were being sued for negligence, by Dr. Kosowski. According to Pillsbury, the doctor blamed billing discrepancies for negative online reviews.
At 10:30 a.m., Pillsbury says he called into the hearing. The doctor was there but Steve was not.
“Steve not being there was really strange and then he wasn’t responding to my text messages, which was really strange,” Pillsbury recalled.
Largo police say Cozzi was dead, and his body was in a cart outside his office.
Court documents allege the doctor murdered Cozzi in the restroom, then dialed into the hearing.
“As soon as the defendant disconnects .. video captures the subject at the crime scene beginning to move,” the documents said.
Soon after the call, police were on scene and a manhunt began to find the suspect. Pillsbury says he spoke with detectives, sharing his account.
“I knew it was him. I knew what happened,” he said, “I went straight home. I made sure my house was locked up. We bought a new security system.”
“I wouldn’t leave the house, I was really really scared. I didn’t sleep at night.”
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The doctor’s attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, is urging patience.
“He’s presumed innocent despite the nature of the charges,” Brunvand said.
Tampa’s legal community honored Cozzi at a vigil, after his death. The case stunned colleagues.
“Steve was … accessible, I run a virtual office,” said Pillsbury, “I keep going over my head like how scary it probably was, how difficult it must’ve been for him just to process it all.”
“It haunts me thinking about what happened to him. Like I can’t deal with the actual idea of what happened to him.”
Equally haunting, the what-ifs. Two months earlier, the doctor was in Cozzi’s office, for a deposition. Pillsbury was on Zoom.
“Tom Kosowski was conducting a deposition of a witness with very little information,” he said, “It was just constant and this witness was becoming uncomfortable.”
“Steve felt so bad for her because she was getting beat up.”
Court documents state the depo became “verbally contentious.”
Then, the doctor allegedly confronted Cozzi in the restroom.
“When he approached him in the bathroom…I wish we could’ve, like….I wish we would’ve brought that to the court’s attention faster,” he said. “I am constantly dealing with a mixture of sadness, grief and guilt.”
To date, police have not found Cozzi’s body.
Those who had the privilege of meeting Cozzi will never forget him.
“He deserved so much better, he just deserved so much better,” said Pillsbury. “Everybody lost, the world is worse today.”