Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Defendant implicates friend Tavari Grant in murder of Brito teens

When interrogated the day after Kiara Brito, 16, and her brother, Jeremi, 13, were killed in 2011, Charles Waits said a man named Rocco killed them. He changed his story Monday.


When interrogated the day after Kiara Brito, 16, and her brother, Jeremi, 13, were killed in 2011, Charles Waits said a man named Rocco killed them. He changed his story Monday.

TAMPA — Charles Waits, on trial for first-degree murder, told jurors Monday he had lied.

On June 6, 2011, the day after two South Tampa teenagers were fatally shot in the head, Waits told the lead homicide detective that he had been forced to help rob the teens at gunpoint by a man named "Rocco."

Testifying in his own trial Monday afternoon, Waits, 21, said that Rocco — a man police were never able to find — was not at the murder scene. Instead, it was Waits' friend Tavari Grant.

The revelation refuted what jurors had heard Waits say on a recording just hours earlier.

Monday morning, they listened to an audio recording of Waits' initial interview with Tampa police Detective Charles Massucci. On it, Waits describes being forced at gunpoint by "Rocco" to knock on the door of a home where 16-year-old Kiara Brito was home that night with her 13-year-old brother, Jeremi.

Waits says on the recording that he and Rocco were going to buy marijuana and, at the last minute, Rocco pulled a gun on him and it turned into a robbery.

He said Rocco forced him to knock on the door. Kiara opened it, then Rocco robbed the children. Waits said he was running away when he heard gunshots.

The children were dead.

Waits says he did not know that at the time.

When Waits described that bloody morning on the witness stand Monday afternoon, the facts were similar. But instead of pointing to "Rocco" he blamed Grant, his friend who was arrested and also charged with first-degree murder on June 9, 2011 — three days after Waits' initial interview.

Waits said he lied because Grant had threatened him.

According to Waits' testimony, Grant said, "If you try to turn me in, I'm gonna come kill you, your mom and your brothers."

Authorities have not asserted that Waits pulled the trigger. But if they prove he was committing a robbery at the Brito house at the time, jurors can find him guilty of being a principal to murder.

Grant, 21, is being held in jail without bail and has not yet faced trial.

During Waits' nearly three hours of testimony and cross-examination Monday, he repeated several times that he had never planned to rob the Brito children. He had taken Grant to the Interbay-area house only to buy marijuana — an expensive hydroponic type that he knew Kiara sold.

Waits left the house before shots were fired, he testified, because Grant told him to "go get the car." When he heard pops, he figured they were warning shots.

"I knew Tavari," Waits testified. "I didn't think he would kill two defenseless kids in the house like that."

Waits said he tried to drive away by himself but accidentally came upon Grant down Van Buren Drive after Grant exchanged gunshots with a watchful neighbor, unbeknownst to Waits at the time.

Waits testified that he slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting Grant. Then Grant hopped in the car and yelled "Go! Go! Go! They're shooting," Waits recalled.

The next day, Waits said, his head was spinning. He went to several friends' houses and planned to ask one of them what he should do about it.

He never called police.

Waits went in to talk to detectives only the next day, after officers had impounded his mother's car — a Chevrolet Impala that Waits had been driving.

The trial will continue today with closing statements.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Defendant implicates friend Tavari Grant in murder of Brito teens 10/14/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 14, 2013 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 20 local museums are offering free admission or deals Saturday for Free Museum Day

    Visual Arts

    For all the community's support of the arts in the bay area, it's nice to be rewarded with free admission once in a while. And that's exactly what many area museums are offering on Saturday.

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  2. Cubs bring some other ex-Rays to Trop such as Wade Davis, Ben Zobrist


    Joe Maddon's first trip back to the Trop is getting most of the headlines tonight, but there are several other familiar faces among the eight former Rays now wearing Cubs uniforms.

  3. Bicyclist in critical condition after colliding with vehicle in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A bicyclist is in critical condition after he ran a red light and was struck by a car on Monday night, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

  4. Myanmar leader sidesteps atrocity allegations in first address on Rohingya crisis (w/video)


    YANGON, Myanmar - In her first major speech Tuesday on the worsening Rohingya crisis, Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, sidestepped allegations of atrocities committed against the stateless Muslim minority and cast the conflict as just one of many problems ailing the country.

    A Rohingya Muslim, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, carries his belongings as he arrives at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. With a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims sparking accusations of ethnic cleansing from the United Nations and others, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said her country does not fear international scrutiny and invited diplomats to see some areas for themselves. [Associated Press]
  5. Florida education news: Free lunch, school routines, spending cuts and more


    FREE LUNCH: Hurricane Irma caused many families to go without income for a week. Many also lost power, and along with it the food in their refrigerators and freezers. Making matters worse, replacing it isn't so easy, as grocery stores have limited supplies. Hoping to ease the burden, the state has asked for …