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Kissimmee man charged with murder in Brandon triple slaying

TAMPA — A 19-year-old Kissimmee man has been charged with killing three people in a gang-related incident that shocked a quiet Brandon community last month.

Esteban Merchan, who Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies say is a known member of the Bloods gang, was booked into Orient Road Jail on Monday morning, He faces three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Another man, Prentiss Earl "Dollar" Jackson, 18, of Orlando was previously charged in the same incident. He faces two charges of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of aggravated assault.

Together, deputies say, the pair killed Vincent Thomas and Tony Black, both 22, after arriving at Thomas' house, 507 Oakwood Ave., just after midnight Dec. 29.

Thomas and Black died of gunshot wounds.

One other person, Rafael Guadalupe, 21, was stabbed to death about 20 feet away.

Deputies say Black, also a known member of the Bloods, and Thomas were together in a backyard shed and game room when Merchan pulled a knife on Black and started stabbing him in the shoulder and back.

When Thomas stepped in to try to help Black, deputies said, Jackson shot Thomas. Then, deputies say, Jackson turned his gun on Black and fired again.

Black and Thomas died inside the shed.

Nearby, Guadalupe suffered multiple stab wounds. When deputies arrived they found him dead in the back yard.

After the killings, deputies said, Jackson and Merchan ran to the front yard, where they confronted a fourth man.

Ralph Arroyo, 21, was in the front passenger seat of a Nissan Altima, and deputies say the pair ordered him out of the car. Then Merchan stabbed Arroyo in the back of the head, and Jackson and Merchan beat, kicked and punched Arroyo, deputies said.

Arroyo fled into nearby woods.

Merchan was arrested Jan. 8 in York, Pa., after deputies issued a warrant for his arrest on an aggravated battery charge. He was indicted on the new murder charges Monday, records show.

Kissimmee man charged with murder in Brandon triple slaying 01/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 11:09pm]
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