Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Memorial service honors slain Tampa siblings

Robinson High basketball players weep during the memorial service for their teammate Kiara Brito and her brother Jeremi Brito at the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa on Friday.


Robinson High basketball players weep during the memorial service for their teammate Kiara Brito and her brother Jeremi Brito at the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa on Friday.

TAMPA — The siblings left indelible marks, one with her artistry, the other with a precociousness that charmed teachers and the upright bass.

Reminders of Kiara and Jeremi Brito, teens fatally shot Sunday, were written everywhere Friday during a memorial service that drew about 500 to the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa. Their names were printed on T-shirts and uttered through heavy sobs in a church so packed that some mourners sat in the choir's pews behind the pulpit.

The Robinson High School girls basketball team wore black shirts with Kiara's initials and her No. 31 jersey number printed on them. Beneath many shirts, Kiara, 16, had left a more permanent monument: Tattoos. Butterflies, roses, initials, neighborhood names — her work could be seen on the skin of many mourners.

"She was just as talented an artist as she was a beautiful person," said Sarah Newton, 17, whose calf bears the words "Port Tampa" that Kiara inscribed.

She loved drawing, painting her bedroom walls with graffiti art, her friends said. But that was only a part of her. She was a good athlete with a 4.0 GPA and took Advanced Placement classes. She shopped at Hollister Co., owned tons of shoes and always upgraded to the newest pair of Air Jordans.

"Some of us remember Kiara as a diva," high school friend Justin Madison told mourners. She begged her basketball coach not to hold Saturday practices so she wouldn't mess up her hair for the weekend.

She always worked out to stay in shape, friend and neighbor Alicia Castillo, 19, said. She loved her boyfriend and joked about how she just wanted to be taken care of by her mom for the rest of her life.

Teachers said Jeremi Brito, 13, was a boy who loved to take care of them. He was Madison Middle School teacher Elizabeth Burnett's "little helper," who always asked her about her weekend and brought her a sea shell after his first cruise. When Burnett talked about looking for new furniture, Jeremi bragged about buying his own bedroom furniture and told her the right stores to visit. A bass player, he was the "heartbeat" of the school orchestra.

"Charismatic, bright, happy and funny," she said.

He cheered up classmates on the bus every grumpy morning.

"He always made me smile when I'm mad," said Suki Seal, 14.

As testimonies rang out during the service and teens duetting Aaliyah's Miss You faltered under the strain, the slain teens' mother, Judy Brito, sat in the front row with her head constantly resting on the shoulder of Kiara's boyfriend. For much of the service, sunglasses hid her eyes.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or

Memorial service honors slain Tampa siblings 06/10/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2011 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  4. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  5. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike


    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.