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Road rage murder suspect denied bail

"This man should not be out," said a tearful Patricia Malagon, sister of the shooting victim.

Hardly three words into telling a judge why the man accused in a deadly road-rage shooting should remain locked up without bail, Patricia Malagon could not hold back the tears.

They gushed forth, stopping her in mid sentence.

The sight of Robert Bruno in orange jail coveralls and the memories of her younger brother were almost too much to bear.

"I just want the court to see that I have lost my brother, my beloved baby brother," Malagon finally said. "This man should not be out."

Malagon had come to court Tuesday to list reasons why Hillsborough Circuit Judge Cynthia Holloway should deny Bruno's request to be released from jail on bail pending his trial.

Bruno, 31, who had 13 previous arrests, was charged with second-degree murder after police say he shot Largo resident Fernando Malagon, 37, when he became angry because Malagon cut him off on Memorial Highway last month. He has been in jail ever since.

Quickly, and without explanation, the judge announced her decision to keep Bruno behind bars.

Twenty minutes earlier, Malagon's friends and family had clutched hands and wrapped arms around one another bracing for Tampa Detective John Tindall's explanation of what transpired on that stretch of road.

After a 5-mile chase at speeds nearing 100 mph, the two cars pulled over, the detective said. Bruno walked over to Malagon's gray Volvo, shot him in the head with a .45-caliber pistol and then drove off in his Nissan. Tindall said he thinks Bruno is a danger to the community and a risk to flee if released.

The description of how Malagon died had many of his family and friends burying their heads in their hands. They groaned when Bruno's attorney cross-examined the detective about Malagon's aggressive driving.

Across the aisle, a dozen of Bruno's supporters shook their heads in disbelief at what the detective said. They pleaded for the judge to set bail. Bruno's mother cried and called her son a good man. His father was too distraught to speak.

In the end, the judge sided with the Malagons.

_ Graham Brink can be reached at (813) 226-3365 or brinksptimes.com.

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