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Suspect's letters reveal doubts

Jailhouse telephone calls and letters to friends on the outside portray the teenager accused of killing a Pasco County deputy as feeling doomed and depressed, while admitting he was a heavy drinker who got into drugs at age 12.

Transcripts of telephone calls and copies of letters from Alfredie Steele Jr., 19, are part of the court file being assembled against him. In his conversations and letters, Steele often used profanity, which the St. Petersburg Times has removed.

In one call, Steele's mother, Regina Clemmons, told her son she knows he will serve prison time. But she begged him not to give up, offering hope that he may have a way out of the first-degree murder charge facing him.

Steele is charged with gunning down Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison, 57, in a sniper attack with a military-style rifle while the deputy sat in his patrol car June 1 outside a Trilacoochee nightclub.

While investigators say Steele admitted he shot into the car, they also say the teen claimed he didn't mean to hurt anyone.

"I'm a realist," his mother said on one telephone call. "We know that you are going to wind up doing some time behind it. But I don't see it being as bad as you think it is at this point. . . . Don't give up."

In another call, his mother speculated that someone could have slipped something into a drink Steele had at the Rumors nightclub where he was seen before Harrison was shot outside.

"The way they say you were jumping around that floor, wild and all that stuff, I told them _ I said it almost sounds like it _ it's a possibility somebody could have slipped him something that he didn't know he had," Clemmons told her son.

Three days later, Steele discussed the possibility someone spiked his drink with an unidentified person in a call he made from the Sumter County Jail.

"I don't even really remember (expletive) from that night, dog," he said.

But Steele also told another unidentified person in another call that he had used drugs since he was 12 and drank heavily.

"Sixth grade I started smoking weed, sixth grade," he said.

Steele said none of his friends suspected it at the time, but while others were roughhousing, he said he was spending his allowance on marijuana. It kept him relaxed, he said.

"I wouldn't have been able to graduate school if it weren't for weed," he said.

Later, he said, he discovered alcohol.

"I'm having more fun with the alcohol than I do with the weed," he said. "I believe I was becoming an alcoholic, dog."

In the call from jail, Steele said he was craving beer and talked about how much he drank on the outside.

"I can sit at the house and drink a whole 20-pack by myself and won't pass out," he said. "On my 19th birthday . . . I drank a whole . . . fifth."

But while he reminisced in some calls and letters, he admitted in others that the magnitude of the charge weighed on him.

In a letter to friend Reka Harrison, he wrote, "I never realized how much life means until now. I used to take this . . . for a joke. . . . Now, I don't even know if I'm coming home again."

In a telephone conversation with an unidentified person, he said, "I'll probably be dead by the time I'm 30. . . . Either the police are going to kill me or I'm going to die in a car wreck or something like that."

And in a call to his mother, he said, "I just feel that I'm doomed or something."

His mother implored him to stay upbeat.

"Don't ever throw your hand up and give up," she said. "Do you know people have committed mass murders and then killed five or six . . . people at one time and didn't get the death penalty? . . . You have got to fight this thing."

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. A trial date has not been set.

Steele has pleaded not guilty.