TAMPA — Two of three men arrested Wednesday in the grisly murder of a man in Brandon made their first appearance before a Hillsborough County judge Thursday morning.
Kasey Lee Ackerman, 20, did not appear because he was in the hospital, a court administrative aide told Judge Walter Heinrich. A jail official said Ackerman has a medical condition that required a trip to Tampa General Hospital for some tests. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter could not elaborate because of medical privacy laws.
"He should be on his way back to the jail today," Carter said.
Ackerman has been charged with first-degree murder, as was Brendan Lee Terry, 20. David James Link II, 18, is charged as an accessory after the fact. All three were roommates in Brandon.
Authorities say Robert Mason Brewer, 26, of Valrico, was stabbed, beaten and put into a duffel bag by the men. He was then taken to a trash bin, doused with gasoline and set on fire, screaming as he burned alive.
Staring at the floor, Link appeared before Heinrich through a video teleconference. Heinrich said he wasn't sure why Link wasn't charged with first-degree murder along with the other two, as it looked like he was involved in the attack.
He noted that Link would still face life in prison if convicted as charged.
"You are excused, sir," he told Link, who is being held at Falkenburg Road Jail. "You won't be getting out of jail any time soon."
Terry, who is being held at Orient Road Jail, appeared next.
"You, too, could be facing the death penalty," Heinrich told him.
Meanwhile, Brewer's family gathered to mourn and made funeral arrangements. His mother, Lynn Colicci, said that Brewer was living at the Salvation Army on N Florida Avenue, and she last talked to him Friday.
"Why would they do this? Why wouldn't they just let him go?" Colicci asked tearfully.
She spoke of a man who loved music and was constantly trying to start a band.
"No matter what state he was in he would give you the shirt off his back," said Colicci, 51.
She said she knows her son's killers did not know him because if they did they could not have done what they did.
"I have to go to the funeral home to take care of my son," Colicci said. "They will be here tomorrow. He won't."