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Woman guilty of murder after visit to hospital

Waiting for a jury to decide whether she was guilty of murder nearly killed Evylyn Wylie, or so it seemed.

After six hours of deliberations, at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, Wylie, 44, suffered an apparent heart attack and was whisked to Tampa General Hospital.

Thirteen minutes later, the jury announced it had reached a verdict in the first-degree murder trial of Wylie and her daughter, Marylyn Holland, 22. The pair was accused of plotting the 1993 robbery of Tomato King Warehouse that resulted in the death of 20-year-old Ricardo Garza.

But Wylie's attorney, Robert Fraser, protested any return of the verdict until his client could be present.

Four hours later, at 10 p.m., after negative lab tests and EKGs convinced doctors that Wylie was okay, and she had rejoined her daughter in Circuit Judge Barbara Fleischer's courtroom, the verdict was finally delivered:

Wylie was guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and three counts of armed robbery. Holland was acquitted of the murder charge, but found guilty of the other charges.

Members of Wylie's family lined the benches behind the defense table and reacted loudly to the verdicts. One of Wylie's sons was escorted from the courtroom crying.

Holland burst into tears and shouted, "My mama didn't do nothing." Sentencing is set for Nov. 16 for both women.

Garza, who had hoped to become a Catholic priest, was also represented. His father, mother and sister sat quietly through the trial. They gently touched one another as the verdicts were read.

Both women were charged last May, after two gunmen in the fatal July 1993 robbery already had been convicted.

Garza was visiting his family's business, The Tomato King Warehouse, at 5207 N 30th St. in Tampa, when two armed men burst in and began robbing employees and customers. Garza slipped into the office and was calling police when the robbers shot him in the back as his mother watched in horror.

The gunman, Eugene Howard, 22, was convicted of first degree murder and four counts of armed robbery last March and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

His accomplice, 18-year-old Rodolfo Torres, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery and was sentenced to 25 years.

Howard and Torres had been staying at Wylie's house when the robbery plot was hatched. The two men and two women had all been drinking tequila and discussing ways to come up with rent money. Prosecutors charged that Wylie gave the men two handguns to commit the robberies, and later divvied up the proceeds of the crime.