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Testimony tells of assassination-style killings of Derek Pieper, Raymond Veluz

Luc Pierre-Charles, center, on trial in two murders, talks with attorneys Richard Watts, left, and Lane Lastinger on Thursday.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Luc Pierre-Charles, center, on trial in two murders, talks with attorneys Richard Watts, left, and Lane Lastinger on Thursday.

DADE CITY — Many of the witnesses in Luc Pierre-Charles' double-murder trial have this in common: criminal records.

But they're also consistent in the accounts they say Pierre-Charles gave them of how he killed two Wesley Chapel teenagers in the summer of 2006.

One recalled hearing the teens plead for their lives.

Angel Brooks was with the group the night of the murders. She was with her boyfriend, Jeremy Henry, a Pierre-Charles' associate, when Derek Pieper and Raymond Veluz, two friends from Wesley Chapel High School who bought drugs from Pierre-Charles, showed up.

Brooks testified that the last time she saw them, they were sitting in the back seat of Veluz's car. Pierre-Charles was driving. Another man, Tyree Jenkins, was next to him in the front seat.

About an hour later, Brooks said, Andre Pierre-Charles, Luc's brother, got a phone call. He answered and put it on speaker phone. It was Luc, she said.

"Did you hear Luc … telling the boys to get down on their hands and knees and pray?" Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia asked.

"Yes, sir," Brooks said.

"And could you hear the boys saying, 'Please don't do this'?" Garcia asked.

"Yes, sir," Brooks said.

Pieper, 17, and Veluz, 18, were found shot execution-style on a dirt road in Trilby on July 28, 2006. Prosecutors say Pierre-Charles, now 21, pulled the trigger to protect his drug trade. Jenkins is also charged.

Pierre-Charles, who was on the run until his arrest in October, faces two counts of first-degree murder. He could get a death sentence.

The 14-member jury is back for a second week of the trial. Because of the death penalty issue, it took three days last week to seat a jury. Prosecutors then began presenting witnesses and evidence. They rested their case Monday afternoon.

The defense will put on its case today, and closing arguments could come as early as this afternoon.

Reluctant witness

Brooks was a reluctant witness, appearing only because she was subpoenaed. Defense attorney Lane Lastinger grabbed at inconsistencies in her statements over time and sought to discredit her.

"Would it be a fair statement, you don't like Luc Pierre-Charles very much?" was his first question.

"You could say that," Brooks answered.

"Would that be a yes?" Lastinger said.

"Yes," Brooks answered.

Lastinger then pointed out that Brooks had told authorities in previous interviews that she didn't get a very good look at the boys in the back of the car, that she didn't know who called Andre later that night and had never mentioned the call being on speaker phone.

Brooks did not dispute those assertions.

But then Garcia stood up again, informing the jury that Jeremy Henry, Brooks' boyfriend, had been murdered just weeks after the two teens' killings.

"And you've been afraid, haven't you?" Garcia asked Brooks.

"Yes," she said.

"You're afraid to be here today, aren't you?" Garcia asked.

"Yes."

Anthony Harris also took the stand Monday. He was working as a confidential informer for the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2006 when, he said, he had a conversation with Luc Pierre-Charles about the murders.

"He said he unloaded numerous times in the back of one boy's head," Harris testified. "And he said Tyree unloaded into the other boy's head."

John Blanford, who is currently incarcerated, is Pierre-Charles' cousin. His testimony suggested a reason for the killings.

Said Blanford: "He and Tyree wanted to bag their first bodies."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Testimony tells of assassination-style killings of Derek Pieper, Raymond Veluz 03/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 16, 2009 9:09pm]
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