TAMPA — In the days after the murder of Tampa police Cpl. Mike Roberts, deputies at the county jail had to spend every minute with his suspected killer, watching him pace his cell, listening to him mumble, writing down the things he said.
They observed Humberto Delgado Jr. for psychiatric reasons. They asked no questions. But the things he volunteered led them to a courtroom Tuesday as witnesses in his death penalty trial.
Fifteen hours after the fatal shot, Delgado asked Deputy Charles Hunt why he wore a black ribbon over his badge. Hunt said it was there for the officer who had just been killed.
"He goes 'Oh.' He goes, 'I knew I was f----- if he was dead,' " Hunt told the jury. "And then he went into telling how the incident had played itself out."
The officer stopped him and went through his stuff, Delgado told Hunt. The officer found a computer, and then guns. Delgado ran. "I think I shot him after he Tased me on my neck," Delgado told another deputy. "I think I blacked out."
He said that before the shooting, he had called his out-of-state ex-girlfriend and asked if he could stay with her. "He blamed her for all of this," Deputy Walter Etheridge said.
Delgado continued to talk to Etheridge, but at one point, said, "Never mind, forget what I said."
But Delgado said something else that the deputy wrote down:
"I wish I could wake up from this dream and say, 'Wow, what a dream.' "
But on Tuesday, reality for Delgado meant watching prosecutors exhibit every gun he had the night of Aug. 19, 2009.
It meant seeing a detective hold up the police uniform of the man whose widow sat in the front row and showing jurors the hole the bullet left.
It meant watching his own uncle take the stand with evidence of his guilt.
Zoilo Velasquez said he got a phone call from his nephew minutes after the bullet was fired, saying he wanted to shoot himself.
He said Delgado told him what happened. "He was going down Nebraska Avenue with a shopping cart," the uncle said. "An officer stopped him … I guess the officer Tased him … and from there, I guess there was a scuffle.
"Humberto fired a shot," the uncle said.
"Is that what he told you?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yes," Velasquez said.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case today. And then, his defense will begin.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3354.