DADE CITY — Harleme Larry, who at 14 was arrested in the shooting death of a man during a robbery that netted $4, is set to go on trial this week.
Larry, who was indicted on a first-degree murder charge, is being tried as adult in the 2010 shooting that killed Agustin Hernandez, a 31-year-old husband and father of two from Dade City. Larry faces life in prison if convicted.
The killing happened nearly three years ago. Just before 2 a.m. on July 10, 2010, four Hispanic men were walking after midnight through Tommytown, not far from Larry's house, when Larry approached them and demanded money, authorities say.
One gave him $4. Another refused to give him anything. Hernandez, records say, swung a beer bottle at Larry, who pulled a gun. Hernandez died from a bullet to his side.
A couple of days later, authorities arrested Larry, who they said had bragged to friends that he'd robbed, shot and killed a man over $4. Hernandez's friends said the shooter wore a red bandana. Larry always wore a red bandana.
Larry told authorities that he pulled the gun in self-defense and that it accidentally went off. He said he rode on his bicycle to a lake and threw the .45-caliber gun into it.
The trial marks the latest chapter in a life filled with tragedies that began early.
Larry, known to family and friends as Harley, was 3 years old in 1999 when his mother, Theresa Vargas, was found murdered in the doorway of a Dade City flophouse. Her husband, Jeremy Vargas, was convicted in 2002 of bludgeoning her to death with a heavy, metal audiotape player. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The couple had been addicted to crack cocaine, authorities said, and Theresa Vargas had worked as a prostitute.
Larry's father, Michael Larry, now 42, has spent the past two decades in and out of prison. His prior stints included sentences for burglary, car theft, grand theft, cocaine possession and other convictions, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
He is now serving a 15-year sentence for robbery and a five-year sentence for passing a forged check.
After his mother's death, Larry and his two brothers moved in with their grandmother, Lessie Bradberry.
The stress of raising children again took a toll on Bradberry, who ended up suffering a series of strokes four years ago that left her unable to use her left side.
Larry, who was just entering his teen years, then began getting in trouble. He has been arrested on charges ranging from interfering with school administrative functions and battery on an education employee to burglary.
A jury was seated Monday for the murder trial. Testimony begins today.