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Luc Pierre-Charles gets life for Trilby slaying of two teens in 2006

From left, Susan Wood, mother of victim Derek Pieper, family friend Denise Duffett and Steve Wood, Pieper’s stepfather, react.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

From left, Susan Wood, mother of victim Derek Pieper, family friend Denise Duffett and Steve Wood, Pieper’s stepfather, react.

DADE CITY — Luc Pierre-Charles drove two teenagers to a desolate road, made them beg for their lives and then shot them again and again in the back.

A judge and jury decided Thursday he will spend the rest of his life in prison for his crime.

The 12-member jury deliberated for an hour before returning the life sentence recommendation. The death penalty was the only alternative.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa had final authority. He imposed the sentence succinctly, saying only that he was bound to follow the jury's recommendation.

Pierre-Charles, 21, said little during his two-week trial. His only comment at sentencing was to inquire about appealing his first-degree murder conviction.

Prosecutors had pushed for the death penalty, arguing that the murders were heinous, cold, calculated and cruel.

Pierre-Charles, authorities said, was a drug dealer who wanted to protect his turf. His first kill would cement his reputation on the streets. On July 27, 2006, authorities said, he and a man named Tyree Jenkins found their targets.

Derek Pieper, 17, was a Wesley Chapel High School student who had bought drugs from Pierre-Charles. That night, he was at a party where his friend Raymond Veluz, 18, asked him to help him buy marijuana.

The friends went to a Wesley Chapel apartment complex, where, authorities say, Pierre-Charles and Jenkins put them in a car, drove them to Harris Hill Road in Trilby and emptied their guns into the boys' backs.

"The manner and style in which this crime was committed separates it from other murder cases," Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia said.

He called Pierre-Charles a "cold-blooded killer."

Defense attorney Lane Lastinger argued that a lifetime of imprisonment was punishment enough.

"He'll never get out," Lastinger said. "He'll die in prison."

Earlier, he called numerous friends and family members who described a courteous, shy and hard-working young man.

"I couldn't ask for a better son," said Angela Pierre-Charles, the defendant's mother.

He is the oldest of four boys, looked up to by his brothers. He earned his high school GED, worked at a restaurant and attended community college.

He once helped his aunt raise money to buy a house, family members said, and gathered friends to help repair the roof of his family's storm-damaged church.

It all belied the haunting crime that took the two teens' lives.

Pieper's mother, Susan Wood, struggled to speak about her son, a lacrosse player who now has an annual tournament dedicated to him.

Pieper had dabbled in the drug scene, friends told authorities, but was trying to distance himself from Pierre-Charles in the weeks before his death.

After the jury convicted Pierre-Charles on Wednesday evening, Wood said she wanted him to spend the rest of his life in prison, remembering every day why he was there.

By Thursday, she had changed her mind. "I am begging the court to execute Luc Pierre-Charles," Wood said.

Then she asked if she could look at him, if she could ask him why.

Their gazes met for a moment, until Pierre-Charles turned away.

Maria Dejon, Veluz's mother, called his death "a continuous nightmare."

"I will never get to see him come through the door and say, 'Mom, what's for dinner?' "

Dejon's words were written down, and a victim advocate read them for her.

She stood by, wiping away tears, unable to speak.

Times staff writer Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Luc Pierre-Charles gets life for Trilby slaying of two teens in 2006 03/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 19, 2009 9:14pm]
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