Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas mother's quest to solve son's killing finally reaches trial

Jerry Tyrone Jones, 24, is on trial on charges in two murders and one attempted murder.

Jerry Tyrone Jones, 24, is on trial on charges in two murders and one attempted murder.

LARGO — The prosecutor called it a "Godfather-style" execution that left two men dead at a warehouse, and another man with five gunshot wounds as he hid outside in the dark.

But as Assistant State Attorney Mark McGarry told a jury all the bloody details Tuesday, a subplot emerged in this murder trial.

It was the story of a mother, Lisa Wheeler-Brown, and how she wouldn't stop pushing for answers after the death of her son, Cabretti Jalil Wheeler, and the other man, Kyle Lynn Elllis, in September 2008.

McGarry said the evidence points definitively to Jerry Tyrone Jones, 24, who is charged with two murders and one attempted murder. McGarry also said there is another man responsible who has not yet been found.

But Assistant Public Defender Stacey Schroeder had a much different explanation for the case against Jones.

"This is a case of mistaken identity," she said.

The two men killed were shot multiple times — four bullets for one, nine for the other — at a warehouse that housed Dat's Right Audio and other businesses at 8191 46th Ave. N, in unincorporated Pinellas County north of St. Petersburg.

The man who survived the attack lived in a loft-style apartment in the area, and heard something like firecrackers, McGarry said. When he went downstairs to investigate, a man hit him in the head with a pistol. He rushed into a bathroom and locked himself inside.

Later, he came out, but things got worse — someone shot him five times.

Prosecutors played a 911 tape of him desperately asking for an ambulance, saying "My head's split open, I'm bleeding everywhere," and "I'm sitting here bleeding all over the place … please get somebody here."

McGarry explained how the Pinellas Sheriff's Office brought in an "armada" of technicians to go over every scrap of fiber in the warehouse. Still, no arrests were made for more than two years.

"Some things probably weren't followed up that should have been," McGarry acknowledged.

But, he added, "It never stopped with Lisa Wheeler. She worked on this case every day."

She wore a T-shirt with her son's picture every day. She visited the survivor in the hospital.

And she picked up a few tips here and there — such as that the killer might have a vertical scar on his forehead. Later, McGarry said, when detectives revived the case, they followed up on notes in another detective's notebook — with some of the same details.

McGarry noted that Jones has an indentation in his forehead, and said the man who survived the attack picked him out of a collection of six photos. He also said a car sale tied Jones to one of the businesses in the warehouse.

And, he said, while Jones was in jail he confided to another inmate that he was the killer.

Schroeder, the defense attorney, said the so-called armada of technicians never found any evidence tying Jones to the scene. She said a composite sketch prepared with the surviving man's assistance did not show the forehead scar.

After fighting for years for this trial, Lisa Wheeler-Brown said she was dealing with plenty of emotions now that the case finally has arrived in court.

"I've been nervous, very anxious," she said. "It brings it all back."

Pinellas mother's quest to solve son's killing finally reaches trial 06/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 12:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings