DADE CITY — Robert Anthony Green was just 15 when, authorities say, he and a friend climbed through an air conditioning duct to rob Sam's Quick Mart in Lacoochee. The alarm went off. Deputies responded. And the burglars fired bullets from inside the convenience store, striking Deputy Jeff Chandler in the chest.
Chandler was unharmed in the 2008 shootout, thanks to a metal business card holder in his breast pocket, which slowed the bullet.
Now Green is on trial for the shooting. Jurors on Monday heard a recorded interview with detectives in which Green confessed to the crime.
"I shot this way — boom — shot that way," Green says on the recording. He went on to describe how he and his 16-year-old friend, Antonio Lee Murray, moved inside the store, and their intention to scare the deputies outside by shooting the gun.
But Green's attorney, Dustin Anderson, told jurors the confession was coerced and should be disregarded. Officers never read him his Miranda rights and never told him he could remain silent.
And for the first 20 minutes, Green denied having anything to do with the break-in.
"No, it was Antonio," he told the detective.
"I think you did it. I can see it in your eyes," the detective responded.
Green went to trial once already earlier this year, but the judge declared a mistrial after a witness revealed Murray had also confessed.
Murray pleaded guilty in May with no deal from prosecutors. He was a straight-A student during his time in jail and hoped for leniency from Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa. But in handing down the 25-year sentence, the judge told him, "You show promise when you are in custody. But you are a menace to society when you are out on the street."
Green, now 18, also faces a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted of armed burglary and attempted felony murder.
Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia presented evidence that was not available in the first trial: one T-shirt found about 1,000 feet from the convenience store with Green's blood on it, and another one from when he was arrested. Both contained his blood, a DNA analyst said.
Anderson, too, mentioned new evidence. He said a Yoohoo bottle that Green told the detective he took from the store had fingerprints on it — but they weren't Green's.
The trial continues today.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.