TAMPA — They left the Groovy Mule Bottle Club after a fight and returned guns ablaze, firing into the unknown.
Antonio Coleman, an award-winning Atlanta teacher here for a conference and visiting family, was found dead in his rental car with a bullet in his head. He had nothing to do with the fight and never stepped foot in the club. He was just waiting for his brother.
His life ended at 36.
Early that morning of Jan. 20, 2008, three children lost their father, a wife became a widow. And on Friday, Max Jasper, 24, was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder.
But first, he had to listen to Sesily Coleman explain just what her life has been like since she lost her husband.
"I would've been celebrating my 10-year wedding anniversary," she said. "I'm doing the job of two parents and I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm frustrated. And on many days, I can't see straight. …
"At 33, I had to bury my husband. … I had to pack up his suit and dress him for a funeral. My son came up to me and asked, 'Why is my dad in a box?' I haven't even been to his grave site. I can't pull up the nerve to do it. …
"I had to clean out his desk at work. Our first home we purchased together, I had to leave because it was too painful. …
"My bathroom had a bay window that saw into the street and I was afraid that if I was brushing my teeth or combing my hair, that a bullet would come through the window.
"My kids can't sit in a car very long. They think something is going to happen to them.
"My daughter, her classroom was literally right across the classroom where he taught. She had to walk down that same hallway every morning. …
"We are hurting," she told Jasper, "and you look like you don't even care. …
"Throughout the trial, I looked you in the face as much as possible. And I saw nothing in your eyes."
She left him with the words of her 7-year-old son Kalvari:
I feel like I don't have a daddy anymore.
Jasper said nothing in return. His attorney apologized on his behalf before Judge Emmett Lamar Battles sentenced him to the maximum.
A second man convicted in the shooting, 39-year-old Raymond Torres Jr., will receive his sentence on May 21.
Mrs. Coleman will be there.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3354.