Byline: John DeSantis STAFF WRITER
A gray duplex stands on a winding street outside of Rubonia. It is one of 14 such houses in a subdivision called "Helmer's Hide-Away," which was built by Bradenton developer George Helmer and framed by nearby stands of oak and Australian pine.
It's a friendly enough neighborhood. Residents throw a huge block party there every Halloween with a barbecue and hayrides, games and gifts. It is an event that parents say is safer than going door to door. For part of the celebration, parents draw and display mock "tombstones" bearing their children's names, with references to causes of death such as "chronic nose-picking" or "tattling."
Neighbors said Heather and Joseph Ciambrone did not permit their four children to participate in the jocular festivities because of a belief that Halloween is evil.
This week, Manatee County residents will take seats on a jury that will decide whether Joseph Ciambrone committed evil acts that resulted in the death of his 7-year-old adopted son, Lucas.
The jurors will determine whether the gray duplex was a house of horrors or a haven for young, displaced victims where a tragic accident occurred.
Heather and Joseph Ciambrone are facing first-degree murder charges in connection with Lucas' death May 13, 1995. He weighed 27 pounds - half the weight of a normal 7-year-old.
Lucas' body was covered with 200 injuries in varied stages of healing. He was hospitalized by his parents after he fell into a comatose state. Two days later, medical workers took him off life support and he died.
The cause of death is listed on …