Hillsborough County
David Gee, Sheriff
Tampa, FL
  • News Releases are to be used for informational purposes only.
    Information provided should not be relied upon for any type of legal action.

    Release Number: 11-039

    • For Immediate Release:
    • Public Information Office of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
    • February 4, 2011
    • Contact Person:
    • Debbie Carter : dcarter@hcso.tampa.fl.us
    • 813-247-8059

    Child Abuse Charges Upgraded to Murder

    Forensic Experts present findings to the State Attorney's Office.
    • Tuesday
    • August 10, 2010
    • Time: 9:34 PM
    • 14023 Lemon Valley Place
    • Tampa, FL


    O'Connell, Kara DOB 04/21/89 (Girlfriend)
    14023 Lemon Valley Place
    Tampa, Fl 33625

    Garwacki, Justin DOB 03/05/84 (Biological Father)
    14023 Lemon Valley Place
    Tampa, Fl 33625

    Upgraded Charges: (Both)

    First Degree Murder
    Aggravated Child Abuse
    Child Abuse
    Child Neglect
    Failure to Report Child Abuse


    Baxley, John Taylor DOB 11/02/06 (DECEASED)
    14023 Lemon Valley Place
    Tampa, Fl 33625

    Update – February 4, 2011

    Charges upgraded to First Degree Murder on both suspects. The investigation into the death of John Baxley continued with the Medical Examiner bringing in Forensic Experts to review the case. Based on their conclusion, those findings were presented to the State Attorney’s Office and as a result of a Grand Jury indictment; the charges were upgraded to First Degree Murder.
    See original news release below.

    Original News Release:

    On August 10, 2010 at approximately 9:34 p.m. deputies were dispatched to 14023 Lemon Valley Place for a report of a 3-year-old child who was not breathing. Deputies and Hillsborough Fire Rescue personnel responded and found an unresponsive child who suffered from extensive trauma to the body.

    The child was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital for treatment and died a short time later. Homicide detectives have determined that the child has been residing with his father and the father's girlfriend, Kara O'Connell, for approximately one month after Garwacki picked up the child from Missouri and brought him back to Tampa.

    While the child resided with his father, he had been the victim of aggravated abuse and neglect by both suspects. In addition, neither suspect sought any medical care or assistance after he was injured until authorities were summoned on the reported date.

    The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are anticipated.
  • Sheriff David Gee
    Sheriff David Gee
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