Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Police: Murder suspect offered $20,000 for false confession

ST. PETERSBURG — Police said a man charged in connection with a recent nightclub shooting offered to pay someone $20,000 to take the blame for the killing.

St. Petersburg police arrested Artez Hooker, 31, outside a lawyer's office Monday afternoon on a charge of second-degree murder. Hooker had known he was wanted and had agreed to meet a detective at lawyer Doug Prior's office on Roosevelt Boulevard, arrest reports said.

During the arrest, police learned that Hooker had brought another man, Robert Jerome Sowell, 21, to Prior's office "and told him exactly what to write" in a letter confessing to the crime, arrest reports said.

Outside the office, police saw Hooker fighting with Sowell and trying to get the letter out of his pocket. While arresting Hooker on the murder charge, police also charged him with robbery and tampering with evidence in connection with the fight.

Police arrested Sowell as well, on a charge of accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.

Hooker is charged with shooting Doncaro Small, 32, on June 16 during a brawl at Hollywood Nites Club, 1201 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S. After the shooting, Small drove to a hospital. Police initially expected him to live, but he died Saturday.

Two weeks earlier, Hooker had gone to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with a gunshot wound to his right leg. Police believe Hooker was shot during a fight at Onyx Premium Nightclub, 211 Third St. S, but he refused to speak with officers.

This isn't the first time Hooker has been accused of violence.

In December 1998, Hooker — who was then 15 — shot a man multiple times during a traffic dispute. The incident occurred after Hooker, who was on a bike, believed the 30-year-old driver had cut him off. Hooker shot the man twice in the leg and once in the hand. He was charged as an adult with attempted murder.

Hooker was later released on bail and, a month after the incident, ran into the victim in a barber shop. Hooker told the man not to talk to anyone about the incident and lifted up his shirt to reveal a gun. He was charged with witness tampering.

Hooker pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of aggravated battery and was sentenced to three years in prison as a youthful offender; a judge recommended he serve his time at a boot camp.

Police: Murder suspect offered $20,000 for false confession 06/25/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]