Both court cases in the long-running mystery surrounding the murder of Zuheily Rosado at a Palm Coast gas station six years ago, one criminal, one civil, may be nearing resolution, or at least trial.
Late the night of Feb. 21, 2013, a man entered the Mobil Mart store on State Road 100, near I-95, turned to the right, lifted a gun and shot store clerk Zuheili Rosado, who was behind the counter, killing her. She was 32 and the mother of six.
Seven months later Joseph Bova II was arrested in Boca Raton and charged with Rosado’s murder. But he’s been repeatedly found to be incompetent to stand trial through several disturbing appearances before different judges. In one appearance he explicitly threatened a judge’s life as he stood before him. His case was last heard in November, when a judge again deemed him incompetent to stand trial. By then Bova had scrawled written guilty pleas in the murder.
Joseph Infantino, the administrator of Northeast Florida State Hospital, the Department of Children and Family’s lock-down psychiatric facility where Bova has been treated, notified the court this month that Bova “no longer meets the criteria for continued commitment,” suggesting he is ready for trial. His next appearance before a judge in Flaglere–his fourth–is scheduled for March 15 at 8:30 a.m. before Circuit Judge Terence Prekins.
The murder spurred a sprawling civil case as well. Four months after the killing, Rosado family members filed suit against Mohammed Ansari, the Mobil Mart store owner. The suit also names the murderer under “John Doe,” and an entity called “HIS Bunnell LLC,” doing business as Bunnell’s Food Mart. According to state Division of Corporation records, Ansari is or was the registered agent for several convenience-store enterprises. HIS Bunnell LLC was dissolved in 2015. HIS Palm Coast LLC was dissolved in 2011. His only active business in the state lists a Tallahassee address.
The family claims that a week before the killing, a man confronted Rosado at the store and threatened her life, and that Ansari as well as another employee heard the exchange. Court papers describe a Feb. 11, 2013 incident “in which Zuheily Roman Rosado reported that a thin black male spoke harshly to her, told her he was a ‘criminal’ and/or called her names while she was working” at the convenience store.
The suit claims negligence resulting in a wrongful death, as Ansari did not move Rosado from the night shift. (The family initially retained Jacksonville attorney John Phillips, the media-savvy attorney and radio talk-show host, but he left the case in 2017.) The family is seeking damages in excess of $15,000. (Separately, and in a third action, Ansari is suing Associated Industries Insurance Company over non-payment of workers’ compensation claims to Zuheili’s estate. That lawsuit was filed a year ago.)
Lawyers for Ansari and the family appeared in court before Perkins this morning. It was a status hearing on the case. The lawyers agreed that they were “99 percent” close to a settlement, which would negate the need for a trial. But mediation is continuing–and as long as it does, the case remains on track for trial. “We’re very close to resolving it,” one of the lawyers said. Another lawyer described it as “extremely unlikely” that negotiations will fall apart, though matters got “extremely serious” at a mediation session.
Several motions are pending in the case, among them a motion to exclude evidence or allegations, including evidence of Ansari’s previous arrest on a charge that was dismissed (the case was expunged) and claims of inappropriate behavior by one employee toward Rosado at the store. But, Perkins said, “hopefully it will resolve,” rendering the motions moot. If the parties don;t reach a settlement, the case would be set for trial in April.