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Tyree Gland, 19, guilty in 2007 murder of St. Petersburg teen Deandre Brown

ST. PETERSBURG — Facing a second-degree murder charge, Tyree Jamal Gland walked into the courtroom with a menacing jailhouse tattoo on his right arm offering a bounty for the detective who helped put him behind bars.

"Wanted,'' it read, "Detective Gibson, $100,000."

Gland, 19, already had threatened the judge, the prosecutor and their families in letters from jail — evidence of the culture of gang loyalty and reprisal that has hung over this case and crime-plagued neighborhoods of St. Petersburg.

The threats failed: Gland was found guilty Thursday in the death of 15-year-old Deandre Brown.

Deandre's mother, Jacqueline Morehead, hopes the verdict will help quell the kind of street violence that claimed the life of 8-year-old Paris Whitehead Hamilton, another innocent bystander killed in a hail of bullets in her own home.

But this case isn't over. Gland's accused accomplice, who issued his own threats against the detective, will be tried next month.

• • •

It was Gland who fired the fatal shot in the drive-by shooting early March 24, 2007, that hit Deandre as he hung out with his family on his own porch.

Gland faces 25 years to life in prison and will be sentenced Oct. 23. His cousin and co-defendant, Raymond Adams, is accused of driving the car that morning and faces trial next month on second-degree murder charges.

Deandre's family says Gland displayed some signs late in the trial that they interpreted as either contrition or remorse. But he also wielded the brashness of a street tough in the weeks leading up to the trial.

Prosecutors entered into evidence letters signed by Gland and Adams that threatened the lives of Circuit Judge Richard Luce, St. Petersburg police homicide detective Gary Gibson and their families.

Gland warned Luce: "You don't want to end up like that fool Deandre." Gland said his "people" had followed the judge home and that Luce would be "shot in the head" unless he dropped the case or issued an acquittal.

Adams wrote a letter to Gibson warning him not to testify.

The tattoo certainly didn't help Gland's cause, a prosecutor said Friday.

"It shows a consciousness of guilt," prosecuting attorney Richard Ripplinger said of the tattoo. "Innocent people don't do stuff like that."

Gland's mother yelled at her son when she saw the tattoo for the first time in court. Deandre's mother was stunned.

"Who in their right mind would have put that on their arm?" Morehead asked. His own mother, she said, "was very upset about that tattoo."

Deandre's death was the culmination of a dispute that began at Wildwood Recreation Center hours before the shooting.

But Deandre, known affectionately as "Squirrel," wasn't at the rec center that night, his family said.

Gland and Adams began patrolling to avenge some perceived slight after a dance party and came upon the 2200 block of Highland Street S in Harbordale. Gland fired a bullet that pierced Deandre's heart.

• • •

Deandre's aunt, Lattia Morehead, found the verdict "bittersweet." Jacqueline Morehead believes she saw remorse in Gland's face as he turned away from autopsy photos shown to the jury Wednesday.

"He turned to Deandre's mom and had such a sad face," Lattia Morehead said. "She was sitting right behind him. He had sad puppy dog eyes and shook his head. She was behind him and he looked dead at her. It kind of creeped her out. I don't know if it was remorse, but at least he acknowledged she was there."

But Jacqueline Morehead isn't satisfied yet. "It's not really over," she said. Adams, she pointed out, still must be tried. "It does bring a little bit of closure to me, I guess, because he was the actual shooter."

The family and the prosecutor hope the verdict will have an effect on a community torn by gang violence, threats and intimidation.

Ripplinger told the jury it had to "decide whether we were going to follow the law of the street or we would follow our law."

That wasn't always easy even in the courthouse, Ripplinger said. He and other members of the State Attorney's Office were subjected to stares and attempts at intimidation in the hallways during recess, he said. A prosecution witness claimed to have been threatened, he said.

And one of Gland's brothers had to be removed from the courtroom after the verdict was read, Ripplinger said.

Jacqueline Morehead plans to speak at Gland's sentencing. She is hashing out what she would say and how, depending on how she feels that day.

"I will probably say that I feel kind of sorry for him because he is so young and he made a stupid mistake," she said. "But I will never forgive him for taking my baby away from me."

Tyree Gland, 19, guilty in 2007 murder of St. Petersburg teen Deandre Brown 08/28/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 28, 2009 8:23pm]
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