Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Trial begins in 2011 slaying of Progress Village teen

TAMPA

“Is this your sister's blood?"

Ishia Washington, 21, stared at a projected photograph of her dead sibling, Iesha. Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Justin Diaz pointed to the hole a bullet left in Iesha's head two years ago. Behind dark bangs that hid half her face, Ishia's eyes welled.

"Yes, sir," she said.

Washington's eyewitness account of her sister's death anchored the prosecution's case on the first day of testimony in the second-degree murder trial of Tyrell Bragg, 23, of Tampa. Bragg is charged with fatally shooting Iesha Washington at a party in Riverview in 2011.

Taking the stand Tuesday, Ishia Washington described an overcrowded, alcohol-fueled gathering of young men and women at a union hall off U.S. 41 in Riverview. She recalled fistfights between feuding kids from adjacent Tampa neighborhoods.

And as she recounted the last minutes of Iesha's life — how she leaned out of a car screaming for her brother, then went limp — Ishia Washington learned one of the courtroom's many unwelcome lessons: Included in the cost of justice are answers to questions no person should be asked.

"Once your sister fell out of the car," asked Diaz, "did she get back up?"

"No, sir."

In her opening statement Tuesday, Assistant State Attorney Kimberly Hindman said the bullet that lodged in Iesha's head was intended for her brother, Darrell Hernandez, who had been in a brawl with Bragg outside the union hall.

Hernandez and the Washingtons are from Progress Village. Bragg is from Clair-Mel City. Young men and women from the two neighborhoods don't get along, and fights broke out when big contingents from both areas showed up at the party.

At one point Bragg stalked Hernandez, firing a handgun, Hindman said. Washington was leaning out the back window of a four-door Saturn when the bullet found her. She had been pleading with the car's driver to wait on her brother, according to Ishia Washington, who was sitting next to her.

It was less than two weeks after Iesha's 18th birthday.

"This case is about two neighborhoods and an 18-year-old girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Hindman said.

But prosecutors had a distance to go in proving their version of events as the trial began. The state's case rests on eyewitnesses' accounts of a chaotic scene where at least several people were firing guns. A 22-year-old Tampa man, Craig Thompson, was also fatally shot that night. A gun was found at Bragg's home, but it did not match the bullet that killed Washington. On Tuesday, Hernandez gave confusing testimony that left open the question of whether Bragg was near Washington when he allegedly opened fire.

"None of the physical evidence ties Tyrell Bragg to a gun that committed the crime he's accused of," said his defense lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Beardsley.

Testimony in the case continues today. The trial is expected to conclude this week.

Ishia Washington said she was positive she had seen Bragg advancing toward their car, holding a gun, his arm extended. She said she heard the shots at the moment Iesha fell. And asked by prosecutors what she saw next when she looked at her sister, Ishia had an answer.

"I seen blood."

Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

   
Comments
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Friday’s scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Updated: 2 hours ago

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Florida National Guard soldier killed, five injured in Sebring crash

SEBRING — A soldier with the Florida National Guard was killed and five others were hospitalized after a multi-vehicle crash on Friday, officials said.The crash took place at about 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Hammock Road.The soldiers ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two New Port Richey men face charges after Pasco County deputies say they stole about $11,000 worth of cellphones and cellphone equipment at a Metro PCS store on State Road 54.Robert Jackson and Ronald Hartshorn were arrested Wednes...
Updated: 4 hours ago
U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soul food restaurant as part of scheme to steals thousands

U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soul food restaurant as part of scheme to steals thousands

TAMPA — The owner of a soul and seafood restaurant is facing more than 10 years in federal prison for filing dozens of false tax returns and stealing thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Natalie Rene Panko, 57, owner of Ladie...
Updated: 4 hours ago
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA — If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, don’t be alarmed.It’s the sound of flying hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in November, he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system, according to an autopsy report.Halladay, 40, died from blunt force trauma with drowning ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Updated: 4 hours ago