DADE CITY — When a murder wave swept through east Pasco County in 2006, authorities hinted at connections in all the bloodshed.
Two Wesley Chapel teenagers were murdered in Trilby, and a career criminal from Dade City was named a person of interest. Then the person of interest turned up dead after telling a newspaper he knew something about the teens' deaths.
Luc Pierre-Charles faces trial March 9 in the murders of Derek Pieper and Raymond Veluz, two Wesley Chapel High School students found executed on a rural dirt road in Trilby on July 28, 2006.
Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa heard pretrial motions Friday in the case, which carries a possible death sentence for Pierre-Charles, 21.
Among the back-and-forth between prosecutors and defense attorneys, these nuggets emerged.
Days after Pierre-Charles gunned down, Pieper and Veluz, Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia said, he talked to Commie Pattmon, an associate who showed him a couple of guns.
"Luc told him, 'These are the guns that are going to give me a life sentence,' " Garcia said. Pierre-Charles then gave the guns to Jeremy Henry for safekeeping.
Soon, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office named Henry as a "person of interest." They said he was armed and dangerous, and they needed the public's help finding him.
The same week, a man who identified himself as Henry called the Tampa Tribune to proclaim his innocence in the homicides. "I just want to let you guys know I had nothing to do with it. I do know a little about it," the Tribune quoted him as saying.
When Pierre-Charles heard this, Garcia said, he sought revenge, offering Pattmon $2,500 to kill Henry.
Garcia didn't say whether the money was ever paid, but within a week Henry, 20, was found shot to death in a Dade City trailer park. Pattmon, now 26, is charged with the crime.
The driving force behind all the violence, Garcia said was drugs.
Pierre-Charles was a well-established seller intent on defending his turf, Garcia said. Pieper, 17, was his friend, who had become entangled in the drug trade and was trying to get out. Veluz, 18, was a friend of Pieper's who just wanted to buy some marijuana, Garcia said.
Pattmon was brought to the courthouse Friday to testify, but for strategic reasons, he never took the stand. Pierre-Charles' attorney plans to depose Pattmon next week.
Pierre-Charles was arrested in Brevard County in October after a six-week manhunt. His case is moving unusually quickly — especially for one with the defendant's life on the line — but that is by Pierre-Charles' choosing. He has not waived his constitutional right to a speedy trial, which would give his lawyers more time to prepare his defense.
Siracusa lectured him at length about his right to go quickly to trial, and his right to take more time. Pierre-Charles, who had several family members in the courtroom Friday, just nodded.
In a final pretrial hearing scheduled for Thursday, he could choose to postpone it.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.