Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Trial begins in the 2010 murder of Tampa teenager

TAMPA — The gunman robbing the dice game wore a ski mask. He fired one shot. It wounded one dice player and killed the 17-year-old boy standing behind him.

The victim who survived said in court Tuesday that the ski mask didn't fool him. He said the shooter was Reginald "Yellow Boy" Jenkins, now 19, on trial this week in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

Jenkins, called "Yellow Boy" because of his light skin, is charged with the first-degree felony murder of Byron Patty, the grandson of community activist Michelle Patty. Jenkins also is charged with the attempted murder of Alonzo Jones, 19, who had just rolled the dice before a .357 magnum bullet passed through his right shoulder, striking Patty in the head.

The question of identifying a masked gunman — and lack of fingerprints on the murder weapon — included another complication: Jones testified Tuesday wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. He is charged with attempted murder in another shooting last year. He's accused of wounding a pregnant woman.

Defense attorneys suggest he is lying this week to curry favor with prosecutors. He said he has been offered no deal.

The August 2010 dice game took place on the back porch of Brittany Brown's home in Belmont Heights. It attracted between 10 and 20 males, including defendant Jenkins.

Both Brown and Jones said Jenkins left the game, then returned wearing a ski mask and gloves and brandishing a revolver.

Jones said he had seen the same gun a month earlier in the hands of Jenkins' cousin.

That night, he said he felt Jenkins poke him in the back with the gun, while telling him, "Let me get it."

He said he knew Jenkins meant the dice money.

"He grabbed my shirt, and I snatched my shirt back," Jones testified. "That's when he shot. He got one off."

He said he cried out, "Yellow Boy did it."

Brown, standing nearby, said she was knocked down as everyone ran. Jones had collapsed. She said she dragged him into the house, then found Byron Patty, $88 clutched in his hand, lying in the yard, bleeding from the head.

Brown said she was sure that Jenkins was the gunman. She said she recognized him from his voice, his build and his light skin.

Assistant State Attorney Lori Ellingsworth said DNA on the ski mask also implicates Jenkins.

Assistant Public Defender Robert Fraser said Jenkins had given the mask to another youth earlier that night.

Jenkins was arrested by a Tampa police officer as he ran down the street moments after the shooting. When the officer stopped him, Jenkins said he'd just been robbed.

The trial continues today before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Battles.

John Barry can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3383.

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