NEW PORT RICHEY — Three brothers stood trial together in a Pasco County courtroom on charges stemming from a 2014 home invasion.
Court officials had to bring in a second table to seat the three men and their four lawyers for this week's trial.
The brothers — Steven Reverdes, 35; Michael Reverdes, 33; and Joe Reverdes, 33 — are accused of participating in a June 11, 2014, home invasion robbery. Four men broke into a Port Richey home, authorities said, terrorized the occupants, fired gunshots and stole pills and cash.
The trial commenced Wednesday with opening statements, just like any other. But in this trial, each defense team had the right to give its own opening statement. The three defense teams tried to cast doubt on the state's case — but each attacked a different aspect of the story.
According to Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia, this is what happened in 2014: The three brothers and another man, Joseph Rich, broke into a home on Gawain Road around 3:30 a.m. They beat the occupants, pointed a gun at them and looked for drugs and money. Then they left when one of the occupants recognized them.
But what Sarabia called "a nightmare" didn't end there. Three of the men returned, the state said, then Steven Reverdes exchanged gunfire with one of the home's occupants, Johnathan Breau.
Steven Reverdes was shot in the back, left lying under a van in the home's driveway. The other assailants fled.
Steven and Joe Reverdes each face three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of home invasion robbery. If convicted on just one attempted murder charge, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison. Michael Reverdes faces charges of home invasion robbery, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.
Joseph Rich will have his own trial, set for Aug. 1. He has made statements incriminating the brothers, the state said.
"We don't try co-defendants if they make statements implicating their co-defendants," said prosecutor Bryan Doeg.
During her opening statement, Steven Reverdes' attorney, Darlene Barror, conceded her client was at the house during the incident. However, she attacked the state's assertion that Steven Reverdes ever held the gun and said he never intended to kill anybody.
Michael Reverdes' attorney, Philip Dragonetti, told the jury there was no way the occupants of the house, scared and groggy after being awaken during the robbery, could have identified his client.
Joe Reverdes' attorney, Serbo Simeoni, declined to give an opening statement. He will have extra time to speak to the jury during closing arguments.
Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @josh_solomon15.