Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Father and son stand trial in Hillsborough robbery and sexual battery

TAMPA — A father and son were described to a jury Tuesday as a pair of robbers who pistol-whipped the co-owner of two Tampa nightclubs and sexually assaulted his friend in September 2011.

The jury was told that Rakeith Brooks, 30, struck the club owner with a gun, then knocked the woman down and assaulted her with his hand, as his father, Vincent Harrison, 46, yelled to kill the woman.

Neither victim had any cash to offer, only the jewelry they wore. The robbery ended when Enrique De Jesus, co-owner of the clubs Drynk and AJA Channelside, offered the men his 2010 BMW.

Both Brooks and Harrison are charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon, armed robbery and carjacking with a weapon. Each charge carries a potential life sentence.

On Tuesday, De Jesus and his female friend testified that they were accosted at 4:30 a.m. outside the home of a mutual friend on E Broad Street. De Jesus had given the woman and two of her friends rides home after running into them at AJA, where he was working that night.

The woman was getting her backpack out of his car when two men approached, pointed a gun at them and demanded money. When De Jesus said he had none, one of them men struck him in the head with the gun.

De Jesus and the woman each pointed to Brooks across the courtroom Tuesday and said he was the one.

While De Jesus lay on the ground, the woman said, Brooks grabbed her by the throat. "He ripped my jewelry off," she said. "He took me to the ground, on my back. He had one hand on my throat and the other forcing my legs open."

She said the older man repeatedly urged Brooks to shoot her , saying "Kill the b----." The woman said the older man also instructed Brooks to shoot De Jesus.

De Jesus said he then told the robbers to take his BMW. "I pleaded with them," he said. "I have a young son. She has a child, too. I said, 'Take the car; it's worth $30,000.' "

Father and son were arrested that morning after police responded to a 911 call from an E Broad Street apartment. There, a resident reported that a bullet had passed through a wall from an adjoining apartment.

A woman in that apartment said Brooks, whom she described as her friend, had accidentally fired the gun. Police found some of the couple's stolen items, including cellphones and the keys to the BMW.

In the apartment, officers also found a .380-caliber Davis Industries semiautomatic gun and a .45-caliber Cobray one-shot derringer, according to an arrest report. The BMW was later found in the parking lot of the apartment complex, police said.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys said De Jesus and the woman mistakenly identified the father and son.

Brooks was released from prison in June 2010, having served a 10-year sentence for armed robbery, police said. Harrison has also served time in prison.

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or [email protected]

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