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Suspect in double murder had renounced life of crime

DADE CITY — His first arrest was at the age of 15.

By the time he was 20, he was looking at prison.

But Tyree Amondrick Jenkins did not want to go. He wrote letters to the judge in 2006 begging for another chance.

He was about to become a father. His own father was sick with diabetes. And Jenkins wanted to turn his life around for both of them.

"I'm a changed man," Jenkins wrote. "I'm washing my hands with the criminal life."

The court received his letters in October 2006. They arrived three months after two Wesley Chapel teenagers were found executed.

Sharon Jenkins could not be reached for comment about her son. Neither could other family members.

But much can be gleaned about Jenkins' life from court records alone.

His first arrest was Aug. 28, 2001. Dade City police officers charged him with felony burglary and misdemeanor larceny.

Because Jenkins was just 15 at the time of the arrest, police could not comment on the case. A judge declared Jenkins a juvenile delinquent.

Jenkins was 17 when Dade City police arrested him in 2003 on charges of firing a weapon into a dwelling or vehicle. Seven months later, Pasco sheriff's deputies arrested Jenkins on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Adjudication was withheld in those cases, which means Jenkins was not declared a delinquent.

• • •

On April 13, 2004, a Dade City police officer saw a familiar face walking along Oakview Circle.

Sgt. William Rowe would later say in a deposition that he knew Tyree Jenkins from "numerous" traffic stops and curfew violations.

"He glanced back, looking over his right shoulder at me," Rowe said in the deposition. "He appeared to act a little nervous."

Jenkins threw down an object that turned out to contain crack cocaine and ran, the officer said.

Jenkins was arrested that May on a felony charge of possession of cocaine and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. He bonded out of jail in June 2004. By December, he was in trouble again.

A man told Pasco deputies that's when Jenkins and a relative of Jenkins' knocked him down, beat and kicked him, and stole $10. The victim needed six stitches to close his lip.

Deputies asked: How did he know it was Jenkins? They grew up together, the man said.

Jenkins was then arrested on a robbery charge. It was his second arrest as an 18-year-old.

• • •

Jenkins struck a plea deal in September 2005, avoiding prison on charges of possession of cocaine, robbery and resisting arrest. He got six months house arrest and 18 months probation. He was allowed to work and ordered to undergo substance abuse counseling.

But by November, Jenkins' girlfriend had thrown him out, he was behind on his court payments and unemployed.

Warrants for Jenkins' arrest for violating his probation were issued in December 2005.

In March 2006, he ran from a police officer.

Jenkins would stay on the run for eight months.

• • •

On the morning of July 28, 2006, the bodies of Derek Pieper and Raymond Veluz were found.

They were shot dead on a country road in Trilby.

Pieper was 17. Veluz was 18.

Pieper had fallen in with a bad crowd, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and didn't know how to get out. He wanted to go to college and play lacrosse.

Veluz was a recent transplant from New York. Deputies said the night before they died, Veluz asked Pieper if he could get him some marijuana.

But that's all the Sheriff's Office will say about the murders. A break in the 2-year-old case happened last month when a witness came forward.

The agency has yet to release more details about their deaths because a suspect is still being sought. Luc Pierre-Charles, 20, is wanted on two counts of murder.

He is considered armed and dangerous.

• • •

In August 2006, authorities finally tracked down Jenkins. He was arrested on charges of violating his probation.

He was 20 and facing prison when he sat down in the county jail and wrote letters to the judge. Jenkins asked the court to let him go back on house arrest. He had a job waiting, his mom got him a car and he was serious this time.

"I can change my life," he wrote, "cause this jail ain't no place to be."

Yes, he had failed drug tests, he admitted. "Just being young and dum," he wrote.

His 21st birthday was coming, he wrote. He said he had been a troubled teen, but now wanted to "grow up." And he wanted to see his baby being born.

He got the minimum sentence: 21 months in prison. He missed the birth of his son.

• • •

Jenkins had been out of prison since January. Then Tampa police pulled him over July 24.

They arrested him on two Pasco County warrants for first-degree murder in the 2006 deaths of Pieper and Veluz.

Jenkins could get life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of the murders.

Murders, authorities say, that took place three months after Jenkins wrote his letters to the judge, after he said he had washed his hands of the criminal life.

"I know I haven't been the perfect person in the world," he wrote. "But I think I deserve another chance in life."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Suspect in double murder had renounced life of crime 08/03/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 7:49pm]
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