TAMPA — A Tampa man has been charged with murder after a November break-in attempt resulted in the death of his accomplice, deputies said.
Earnest Cherry Jr., 36, turned himself in to the Orient Road jail on June 18 in connection to the death of 40- year-old Chike Tim, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday. He was charged with second-degree felony murder.
The case against Cherry stems from a burglary at a Brandon home on Nov. 28. Deputies say he and Tim conspired to break into the home with hopes of stealing cash and drugs.
That night, a homeowner saw a white Pontiac on front of the residence and a man, later identified as Tim, get out of the passenger side of the car and walk toward the house. Moments later, Tim forced open the door and the homeowner fired one round from a 9mm handgun, hitting Tim. Investigators found his body inside near the front door with socks covering his hands. Detectives also found illegal drugs and $66,000 cash in the house.
A witness told detectives he was with Tim earlier in the day and overheard him on the phone discussing breaking into a residence in Brandon, deputies said. The witness said he heard Tim claim the home had a lot of drugs and money inside. Phone records confirmed the telephone number Tim called belonged to Cherry.
Detectives learned from a witness that Cherry had borrowed a white 2005 Pontiac earlier in the day and that Tim was with him when he borrowed the car. Investigators found Cherry was driving the Pontiac when it left the scene of the burglary, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
In Florida, someone can be charged with second-degree felony murder if another person is killed while the defendant is in the act of committing a felony. Cherry was charged because Tim died while they were committing a burglary they had planned together, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Cherry was booked and released after posting $75,000 bail, records show. Records show he has previous convictions in Florida for cocaine possession, resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he was on felony probation at the time of his arrest.
Senior news research Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected]ampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.