Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

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

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."

Comments
The Daystarter: Survey reveals bipartisan support assault weapons ban; St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race returns to difficult climate; commandos come to Palm Harbor; Bucs address pass rush woes

The Daystarter: Survey reveals bipartisan support assault weapons ban; St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race returns to difficult climate; commandos come to Palm Harbor; Bucs address pass rush woes

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• For the latest legislative coverage from Tallahassee, keep checking The Buzz, which is updated throughout the day by the reporters of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.• We...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition cancelled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under Preside...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

His words and his pleas are similar to what we’ve heard from others in recent days.Kids deserve to feel safe when they walk into a classroom in Florida. More security is needed. More boots on the ground would be helpful. Mostly, more money must be de...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

The massive education measure known as House Bill 7055 has received plenty of attention during the legislative session, with its emphasis on decertifying teachers’ unions and using state-backed scholarship programs to steer kids away from public scho...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

After national headlines and a public outcry over the deaths of 14 people at a Broward County nursing home after Hurricane Irma, nursing homes across the state are working to comply with new rules requiring them to have back-up power.But the process ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Yoshi — car maintenance that comes to you — launches in Tampa Bay

Yoshi — car maintenance that comes to you — launches in Tampa Bay

A California-based company that promises to bring limited on-site car maintenance directly to you — from an oil change to a fill-up — has picked Tampa Bay as its next pit stop."Anything that your car needs, we’re going to bring to you," said Nick Ale...
Published: 02/20/18
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, calls relative after being reported missing

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, calls relative after being reported missing

Seven months ago, Jalyssa Shannon’s older sister Janessa went missing, sparking a frantic search that ended with the discovery of the 13-year-old’s body in a Hillsborough County nature preserve and, later, the arrest of the girls’ father in her murde...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 19

Monday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 11, Central 0
Updated: 9 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., Feb. 19, midday:46 278 6907e_SRit78769Mon., Feb. 19, evening:59 597 4363e_SRit97936Fantasy 5Mon., Feb. 19...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Updated: 9 hours ago