LARGO — Jerry Tyrone Jones will never be free again.
A jury on Friday convicted the 24-year-old St. Petersburg man of murdering two men and trying to kill a third. A judge immediately sentenced Jones to three life sentences without the possibility of parole.
"I feel like a big boulder has just been lifted off my shoulder, and my son can finally rest in peace," said community activist Lisa Wheeler-Brown, whose son Cabretti Jalil Wheeler, 21, and his friend Kyle Lynn Ellis, 24, were fatally shot at a Lealman warehouse in 2008.
Prosecutors said Jones and another man burst into the recording studio at Dat's Right Audio, 8191 46th Ave. N, and shot Ellis and Wheeler multiple times. When a third victim, who lived in an loft apartment, came downstairs to investigate, he was pistol-whipped and then shot.
He later identified Jones because of a distinctive scare on his head.
Authorities called the shootings "Godfather-style" and said the attackers had no motive except a desire to kill that night. They also said Jones confessed to a fellow inmate.
"I told the court … not only was Jerry Jones a murderer but he was a thief because he stole him from us. He robbed us," said Ellis' mother, Karen Cobb. "It's such a blessing to see somebody held responsible for the atrocious things done to our children."
After the murders, Wheeler-Brown became an advocate for other victims of violence, and an outspoken critic of the "no-snitching" culture.
She has been commended locally and nationally for not giving up on the case, even when it appeared to go cold. Officials are still searching for the second suspect.