Saturday, February 17, 2018
Public safety

Criminal history trails fugitive in St. Petersburg hit-and-run case

ST. PETERSBURG — Driving along 22nd Avenue S, Al Spearman got to the corner of 47th Street and looked for his nephew.

Marquice L. Anderson and his friends often stood on the corner in the shade of an oak tree in front of Ferins Food Mart. Spearman spotted him there a few months ago, but he didn't find Anderson on the corner when he passed by on Friday.

By then, police say, Anderson had gone into hiding.

Carrying the weight of a lengthy arrest record with him, the 27-year-old lifelong St. Petersburg resident was still the focus of a manhunt Saturday. He is accused of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident that killed three young mothers, among other charges.

Police say Anderson was driving the Chrysler sedan that slammed into a Saturn at the corner of 16th Street and Ninth Avenue S early Thursday. The Saturn caught fire, killing Briana Lequinda Campbell, 23, and Jamesia Chera Santoria, 21. Their aunt, 25-year-old Grace Collier, died Friday. The three young mothers leave behind a total of six children.

The U.S. Marshal Service's Fugitive Task Force is helping with the search, said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest, but the amount has not been specified.

Spearman has known Anderson since he was a boy but didn't see him regularly. He didn't know his nephew was a wanted man until a reporter contacted him Saturday.

The St. Petersburg man called the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Anderson a "gentle giant."

"I think he was probably tore up and got scared when the car blew up," said Spearman, 55. "He's not a bad kid."

Anderson was born and raised in southern St. Petersburg. His parents didn't stay together but he remained close to both of them, Spearman said.

"He respected his grandmother, he respected his mother, and he respected me," Spearman said.

Respecting the law proved more challenging for Anderson. State records show Anderson's first arrest came in 2003 at age 16. He was charged as an adult with burglary, and the court withheld adjudication.

He pleaded no contest to marijuana possession a few years later. Less than a year after that he was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, a felony, and convicted of the lesser charge of resisting arrest without violence.

A string of drug arrests followed. In 2010, Anderson was sentenced to 17 months in state prison for possession and sale of cocaine. He served nine months and started a two-year probation term in 2011.

Records show nine more arrests since then on charges that included reckless driving resulting in property damage or injury, driving with a suspended license and possession of crack cocaine and marijuana. In late 2012, Anderson was given two more years of supervised probation.

His most recent arrest came in June of 2013 after he failed to appear in court. He spent three weeks in the Pinellas County Jail.

Anderson also has racked up a stack of traffic tickets and unpaid fines. Last fall, the state deemed him a habitual traffic offender and revoked his license. He did not have a valid license at the time of Thursday's crash.

It's still unclear whose car Anderson is accused of driving that morning. Police said the Chrysler's owner was cooperating with investigators but her identity has not been released.

In describing the suspect, police noted three tattoos on Anderson's arms. The names, apparently, belong to women in his life.

Sylvia is his mother, who according to Spearman still lives in the area but couldn't be reached Saturday.

Gloria, his grandmother, died in 2012.

And Dominique is Anderson's cousin, Al Spearman's daughter, whose 2005 murder made local headlines. Dwauneario Brown, the 20-year-old St. Petersburg College student's boyfriend, received a life sentence for shooting Dominique.

Anderson doesn't have that kind of cold blood running in him, his uncle said.

"But he needs to turn himself in," he said.

Times staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Comments

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

PINELLAS PARK — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday said detectives arrested a 14-year-old boy and accused him of posting a threat to a school on his Snapchat account.Edward Charles Osgood, who attends Lealman Innovation Academy, was a...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Man found dead in flaming mobile home

TAMPA — Firefighters found a man dead inside a burned-down mobile home Saturday.Tampa Fire Rescue got a call just after 4:30 p.m. that a single-wide mobile home at the 100 block of East Linebaugh Avenue was in flames.The man’s identity was not releas...
Updated: 7 hours ago
‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

Warning: This story quotes graphic material.Before he killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, Nikolas Cruz repeatedly threatened an ex-classmate who had started dating his former girlfriend, according to a report in Buzzfeed News."I’m going ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Police find dead man in Tampa apartment

TAMPA — Police found a dead man inside an apartment in the 5200 block of Sonora Court Friday after 3 p.m.Who the man is or how long he’s been dead is not yet clear, police said. The victim appears to have been killed in some sort of "homicidal violen...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Prosecutor: Death penalty was ‘designed’ for cases like Florida school shooting

Prosecutor: Death penalty was ‘designed’ for cases like Florida school shooting

The 17 counts of premeditated murder against Nikolas Cruz are the type of case "the death penalty was designed for," according to the Florida prosecutor in charge of trying the confessed school shooter.But Michael Satz, the longtime Broward state att...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Florida, angry and grieving, takes gun protest to streets

Florida, angry and grieving, takes gun protest to streets

PARKLAND, Fla. — Thousands of angry students, parents and residents demanded stricter gun control laws Saturday as new details were revealed about the suspect accused of shooting and killed 17 people in a Florida high school. The rally, held in downt...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Woman hit, killed Friday along Memorial Highway

TOWN ’N COUNTRY — A woman died after she was hit by a minivan along Memorial Highway on Friday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The 53-year-old woman, whose identity was not released, was trying to cross Memorial Highway f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
White nationalist appears to disavow connection with shooter

White nationalist appears to disavow connection with shooter

PARKLAND, Fla. — A white nationalist appears to have lied to The Associated Press and other news organizations when he claimed that Florida school-shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his obscure group.Law enforcement officials have said the...
Updated: 11 hours ago
How killer’s path through a school left 17 dead in six short minutes of terror

How killer’s path through a school left 17 dead in six short minutes of terror

It was Valentine’s Day across America.At an all-American high school in a green and placid Broward County suburb strung with waterways and golf-course communities, that innocent fact would take on dreadful significance well before the day was out.Bet...
Published: 02/17/18
Two students wounded by gunfire outside Tampa’s Middleton High campus

Two students wounded by gunfire outside Tampa’s Middleton High campus

TAMPA — With a nation in jitters over a South Florida school massacre, gunfire erupted a block from Tampa’s Middleton High School on Friday, prompting a reaction that had some students hiding behind locked doors.Two senior girls, ages 17 and 18, were...
Published: 02/16/18