HUDSON, Fla. (WFLA) – A 21-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder after intentionally hitting and killing a 75-year-old man with his car in the Hudson area, Pasco County deputies said Friday.
“There are some cases that we hear of that absolutely, even for us in law enforcement, make us just realize and remind us that there’s pure evil in this world,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
According to deputies, Justyn Pennell said he planned to kill somebody for several months. He went out to run errands around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, then noticed the man walking alongside Aripeka Road.
Pennell told deputies after he saw the victim, he intentionally made a U-turn and accelerated towards the victim.
Deputies explained that the victim tried getting out of the way, but Pennell ran him over with his PT cruiser.
“The suspect tells us later on that while he was driving there, at this victim, he can see the look of fright on the victim’s face,” Nocco said. The sheriff also explained that Pennell laughed and smiled during the incident.
After hitting the victim, Pennell’s car broke down and he called 911. While on the phone with a 911 operator, deputies say Pennell confessed to killing the victim, saying he intended to kill someone, whether they were walking or riding a bicycle, just to see what it’s like to kill.
Deputies also mentioned a witness called from the scene, saying they saw the body of the victim and also saw some people drive up and take pictures of what happened before driving off. Now, deputies say they need the public’s help in finding out who possibly witnessed the crime and any information they might have.
While the victim’s family does not want his name to be made public, deputies said he’s Vietnam War veteran, father and grandfather.
Deputies tell 8 On Your Side that Pennell has never been arrested.
“He was very calm during the interview,” Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Rosa said. “He was able to answer all the questions. He remained lucid. He wasn’t under the influence of anything.”
If you have any information, you are urged to call the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office at 727-847-5878.