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Joshua ROSA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Attempt to commit aggravated child abuse
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 8, 2005
Date of arrest: January 6, 2006
Date of birth: January 24, 1986
Victim profile: Stephen Tomlinson, 13
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on August 5, 2008

Joshua Rosa (born January 24, 1986) is a convicted murderer in the State of Florida.

Early life

Rosa is the younger of two children. His older brother Daniel Rosa, Jr. is five years his senior. His parents are Raquel and Daniel Rosa, Sr. Rosa's entire family is of Puerto Rican descent and he was born in Brooklyn, New York. The Rosa family moved to Florida in the early 1990s so that he and his older brother could have an easier life. The Rosa family are members of the Pentecostal Church and had a very strict, religious upbringing. Rosa graduated from Alonso High School in Tampa, Florida, class of 2004. While a high school student, he was a cadet on the school's drill team and a member of the Army ROTC program. He was also a foil instructor at a local Tampa fencing academy. After graduating from High School, Rosa attended Hillsborough Community College where he was studying to become a psychologist. At the age of 18, Rosa became a Youth Minister at the Zion Pentecostal Church.

Murder of Stephen Tomlinson

On December 8, 2005, the body of 13-year-old Stephen Tomlinson was discovered in a secluded section of Logan Gate Park a couple of blocks from where Rosa lived in Tampa.

Rosa was seen in the park on the night that Tomlinson's body was discovered. Witnesses in the park claim that they saw Rosa jogging in the park that night with a flashlight and wearing white gloves. Rosa was wearing black and seen running from the park, yelling, "Call the cops! I need help!" While Rosa called 911, a neighbor and a number of kids ran into the park and found Tomlinson's body with a bicycle nearby.

When the neighbors arrived, they saw Tomlinson bleeding from the mouth, nose, ears and eyes. Tomlinson's pants were also halfway down and one of the neighbors tried giving Stephen cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but he died in the neighbor's arms. Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene immediately.

When questioned by the Deputies, Rosa stated that he was in the park jogging and then came across Tomlinson's body. Rosa could not provide any valid reasons at all as to why he was wearing white gloves or why he was carrying a flashlight. Blood stains were discovered on both the gloves and on Rosa's jogging pants. Deputies seized a nail clipper that Rosa voluntarily pulled out of his pocket and surrendered to the deputies.

When questioned about the nail clippers, Rosa could not provide a reason for why he had the nail clippers in his pocket. Rosa was detained by detectives where he was questioned further but was let go on the same night. This outraged a lot of the neighbors since they believed that Rosa was the perpetrator behind the murder. Rosa continued to remain cooperative as the investigation continued. Even though Rosa was let go by the detectives, he was still considered a person of interest in the case and the prime suspect. Rosa was kept under constant surveillance and a search and seizure warrant was obtained on Rosa's home where his computer, clothes and other evidence were seized. The cause of death was ruled manual strangulation.


On January 6, 2006, at approximately 6:00 PM, Joshua Rosa was arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office at his place of employment at Sports Authority where he was employed as a part-time sales representative. Rosa was taken into custody without incident.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee released a press conference stating that they were waiting on DNA evidence on the nail clippers and the white gloves that were taken from Josh at the scene of the crime. The DNA evidence that was obtained came from Stephen Tomlinson. Rosa's home keys were also found under the body of Tomlinson at the scene. Rosa was held without bail and booked on First Degree Murder charges. At his arraignment, Rosa pleaded not guilty and requested time to obtain the funds necessary to hire a private attorney.

Trial of Joshua Rosa

The murder trial began on July 11, 2008. At trial, the State Prosecutors portrayed Rosa as the sole murderer who killed Tomlinson. Prosecutors theorized that, after a scuffle with his victim and subsequent strangulation, Rosa tried to hide the evidence by using a nail clipper to clip off Tomlinson's fingernails. The prosecutor also presented the same jogging pants that Rosa was wearing on the night of the murder and showed the jury blood stains belonging to Tomlinson within the inner sleeve of the pants. With the same pair of white gloves that were taken from Rosa, the prosecutors showed the jury that Rosa used the gloves to either suffocate or to keep Tomlinson quiet by placing the gloves in Tomlinson's mouth. The blood pattern stains on the gloves showed the position the gloves had been placed on Tomlinson's mouth.

Rosa was represented at trial by attorney Brian E. Gonzalez. At trial, Gonzalez showed that Rosa was trying to help revive Tomlinson and that he was in the park doing his nightly jog since Rosa was known to be in great shape. Gonzalez tried persuading the jury that there was more than one perpetrator who committed this crime and that Rosa is falsely being accused of the murder. Rosa did not testify on his behalf.

At approximately 11:15 AM on July 21, 2008, Joshua Rosa was found guilty of murder in the first degree and that the killing was committed during the commission of, or in the attempt to commit aggravated child abuse. Rosa was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The prosecutors office stated that the death penalty was not sought in this case since the evidence did not satisfy the requirements for a death penalty case. Once the verdict was read, Rosa spoke for the first time, still claiming his innocence, and stated that his family and his friends know who he really is. Rosa continued to state that he hopes someday the ones who really committed this crime are caught and he wishes that God have mercy upon their souls. An appeal in the verdict is likely to occur in the future.

Joshua Rosa was sentenced to life in prison on August 5, 2008, where he is currently housed in the Mayo Correctional Institution of the Florida Department of Corrections. At 22 years old, Rosa is one of the youngest people in Florida history to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.



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