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Foiled robbery brings murder charge

TAMPA — He didn't pull the trigger, but now he's charged with murdering his friend.

Police say Ramon Antonio Varela, 34, with no known address, was one of two men who robbed a Tuscany Point Apartment resident on Nov. 6.

Varela and Christopher Sherman, 22, of 7111 N Dartmouth Ave., Apt. 3 in St. Petersburg, tied up 21-year-old Anthony Velez and robbed him. But Velez broke out of his restraints and fatally shot Sherman, according to police. Varela got away on foot.

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies caught Varela on Thursday at about 8:45 p.m. at 3709 Legacy Square in Tampa after receiving a tip about his location.

He was charged with three felonies: armed robbery with a firearm, kidnapping and second degree murder. Florida law allows such prosecution if someone dies during the commission of a felony, regardless of the manner of death.

Varela was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail, where he remains without bail.

Varela does not have a prior criminal record in Florida, according to records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Sherman had been arrested at least four times before on drug charges, the records state.

Velez has been arrested twice on charges of drug possession and probation violation in 2006.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at kwilmath@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386. Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Foiled robbery brings murder charge 11/14/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 16, 2008 5:57pm]
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