Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charles Waits gets life in prison for 2011 killing of Brito teens in South Tampa

TAMPA — Calling his actions "absolutely senseless," a judge sentenced Charles Waits to life in prison without parole Friday for the 2011 murders of South Tampa teenagers Kiara and Jeremi Brito.

Waits, 21, was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder last month in connection with the fatal shootings of 16-year-old Kiara and Jeremi, 13.

It was the only possible sentence under state law that could be imposed for the killings, but Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles drove home his view of the crime's severity by also handing down life terms for Waits' related robbery and burglary convictions.

"I will never get to plan my daughter's wedding. People look at me with pity. I hate in my heart, and I've never hated before," the slain children's 34-year-old mother, Judy Brito, told Waits during the hearing. "You crushed my heart. You killed my best friends."

She added, "I hope you die. You killed me when you took my children."

Waits, a sad-eyed young man who has grown a dark beard since his trial ended, stared at the table where he sat.

He turned down his chance to speak to the judge before he was sentenced.

His attorney, Octavio Gomez, said simply: "He didn't wish for this to happen."

It was the end of one chapter in the story of a troubling double-murder that remains, in important respects, unresolved.

Police found the teens shot to death at their home on June 5, 2011.

Their mother was in Treasure Island with her boyfriend the night of the murders. Police and court records indicate Kiara Brito sold marijuana from the family's home just north of MacDill Air Force Base, and the house's reputation as a drug emporium may have attracted the teens' killers.

Several days after Waits' conviction last month, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office announced it was dropping all charges against his co-defendant, Tavari Grant, saying only that it had "insufficient evidence" to proceed.

It was a stunning about-face: Just days earlier, while trying Waits, prosecutors had said Grant was also culpable in the murders. Assistant State Attorney Michelle Doherty said Grant helped plan the robbery and burglary that led to the Britos' deaths, and Waits testified in his defense that Grant fired the shots that killed the teens.

Police and prosecutors say the investigation into Waits' accomplices in the killings remains open.

Grant, a 21-year-old with skulls tattooed on his cheeks, is in prison for unrelated convictions on charges of attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Judy Brito declined to comment after Friday's sentencing about the decision not to prosecute Grant, saying only that Waits' sentence had not brought an end to either the case or her grief. "It's never over," she said.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

Charles Waits gets life in prison for 2011 killing of Brito teens in South Tampa 11/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 10:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"


    The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.

  2. FWC: Fish away for invasive lionfish


    Times staff

    What could be better than fishing and helping save the Gulf of Mexico?

    Add prizes.

    Lionfish, originally from the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, are an invasive species in the Gulf of Mexico. [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Gerald McCoy cares too much about what you think of him

    The Heater

    Gerald McCoy is right. We are going to miss him when he's gone.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of 16 players to record at least five sacks in each of the past five seasons. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Ronde Barber says comments about McCoy 'sensationalized'


    If anyone thinks Ronde Barber was throwing shade at Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, think again.

    "That anyone would assume I would say the best player on the defense isn’t a bad dude is irresponsible and sensationalizing a quote to serve their own means,'' Ronde Barber said.
  5. Nine years later, library attack victim Queena works at learning to walk again


    Slowly, Queena Phu is learning the act of walking again through exercises in locomotion, strength and balance.

    Queena Phu of Tampa and prosecutor Rita Peters arrive at the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center on Monday.
 Phu, 27, has endured a long road to recovery after suffering brain damage from a brutal attack that left her unable to walk, talk, see or eat on her own. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]