TAMPA — Five people were arrested after the gruesome murder of 26-year-old Robert Brewer, who was repeatedly stabbed, doused with gas and set afire during a May 2010 drug party in Brandon.
Only one is left to face trial. On Tuesday, a fourth accomplice pleaded guilty to his part in the killing and agreed to testify against the last of the defendants.
Randy Allen Morris, 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente. In tears, Morris begged the victim's mother for forgiveness. He promised to testify against Kasey Ackerman, 22, who authorities say led the attack on Brewer. No trial date has been set for Ackerman, who is charged with first-degree murder.
On Tuesday, the prosecution provided a horrific summation of Brewer's final moments. Assistant State Attorney Karen Stanley said Brewer had met Ackerman and the others at a Brandon mall and went with them to an apartment where they consumed Xanax and marijuana.
Stanley said Ackerman suspected that Brewer was flirting with his girlfriend, Rosanna DiMauro, 40. After Brewer passed out in a bedroom, she said, Ackerman stabbed him with the help of another man, Brendan Terry, 21.
But Brewer didn't die. He appeared afterward in the bedroom doorway, bleeding, and asked, "Why?"
The prosecutor said Ackerman then led him to the tub in the bathroom and made him lie down. Brewer asked the others to take the phone numbers of his family.
"Call my loved ones," he said, "and tell them I said goodbye."
Brewer was stabbed again. He still didn't die.
At that point, Stanley said, Morris went for gasoline. Brewer was ordered out of the tub and made to lie down on a plastic sheet. Morris helped place him in the duffel bag and carry him to the Dumpster. Morris told detectives he could hear Brewer breathing. Brewer was doused with gas and set afire. The killing was discovered by firefighters responding to the blaze.
Prosecutors accused three people of the actual slaying — Ackerman, Terry and Morris.
Terry pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping in 2010 and is serving a 30-year sentence.
Rosanna DiMauro and her son, David Link, 20, both admitted assisting the attackers after the killing.
DiMauro helped clean up the blood. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year. Link helped carry Brewer to the trash bin, and also helped buy the $3 worth of gas used to set him on fire. He is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2010 to being an accessory after the fact.
Before Morris was sentenced Tuesday, he tearfully apologized to Brewer's mother, Sandra Lynn Colicci, telling her he is haunted by her son's death and deserved punishment. "I live with this every day," he said. "I ask God to forgive me."
As she left court, Colicci said she believed Morris was sincere. "I appreciate he was man enough to apologize. But he had the opportunity to stop what was happening. Nothing can bring my son back."
John Barry can be reached at (813)-226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.