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The end of Poppa Love

June 24, 2010

The man: … He has more than 30 children and paternity claims from more than a dozen women. He calls himself Poppa Love.

He leaves women with babies and tattoos. His ex-wife’s thigh “belongs to P. Love.” Daughters are inked “Daddy’s Girl.”

Over the years, he has had access to many young girls, including his own daughters and other relatives.

There was only talk until a young girl got pregnant…

The escape: John J. Speights Jr. asked to use the bathroom Wednesday and never came back, fleeing a courtroom minutes before he was to stand trial in the incest rape and impregnation of a 13-year-old girl.

The trial went on without him. By afternoon’s end, Tampa police were chasing a convicted rapist — because the girl, now 16, took the witness stand and said all the things he told her not to say.

And the jury believed her…

The search.

The capture.

The sentencing: He entered the courtroom Thursday with a plan.

He would blame his attorney for bad representation. His family would testify about what a great father he was to his more than 30 children. He would ask for two years of house arrest for raping and impregnating his 13-year-old niece.

John Jerome Speights Jr., 45, did all of the above. He even threw in an offer of 80 years’ probation.

But Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe had something else in mind.

“This court is convinced, sir, that you are devoid of any moral values,” he said. “As a result, this court is going to exercise its discretion. … I’m going to sentence you to life in prison.” …

In the end, the man with paternity claims from more than a dozen women faces life in a state prison system that doesn’t allow conjugal visits….

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