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Suspect surrenders as Doster is mourned

One young man drew hundreds of people Friday to a Port Tampa church to celebrate his life.

Across town it was a far different scene for the man accused of taking that life.

Wanted for first-degree murder, Rodney "Roscoe" Roman, 28, walked solemnly into the Orient Road Jail accompanied by no one but his lawyer. The attorney blamed his client's charges on a case of mistaken identity.

Wearing a black cap, black shirt and gray baggy jeans, Roman stepped quietly inside and surrendered. He is being held without bail.

Before he was booked, his attorney, Daniel Castillo, told him to be strong.

"He's just a scared kid," Castillo said. "He's frankly scared to death. He's living a nightmare right now. He's not an armed and dangerous psychopath."

Meanwhile, at the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa, the crowd that came to say goodbye to Vanderbilt University running back Kwane Doster was so large that it spilled through the doors into the front yard.

Pews were packed with dozens of football teammates, coaches and others from Vanderbilt who had flown in on a chartered plane. They joined mourners who had grown up with Doster, 21, in Tampa, where they knew him as the fastest kid on the block, and later as a Robinson High School football star.

"He didn't dislike anybody, and nobody disliked him," said David Primus, 22, a childhood friend. "He used to always tell us when he made it we'd be on MTV Cribs with him playing PlayStation."

Roman, who has a lengthy criminal record, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He served two years of a five-year sentence on cocaine charges between 1997 and 1999. Before that, he was on probation for drug offenses dating back to 1992. More recently, Roman was arrested on marijuana charges.

His last known address was 6206 N 44th St., and he was listed as unemployed in jail records. Records show he previously was a construction worker and auto detail employee.

Castillo said just because Roman has a criminal history does not make him a murderer.

The lawyer said he has has represented Roman since Monday, and disputed police claims that his client was a dangerous fugitive in hiding. Castillo said Roman did not surrender earlier because he was waiting for him to return from a Miami business trip.

Roman stayed at a friend's house until Castillo picked him up Friday.

"He wasn't hiding. He didn't run anywhere," Castillo said. "He's just a young kid who was afraid someone was going to pop a cap into him. That's why he waited for me."

Police said the shooting followed "trash talk" between occupants of two cars over who had the nicer car. Doster, home for the holidays, was a passenger in his friend's Oldsmobile Cutlass, along with another friend. The three were in the parking lot of Club Underground, a nightclub at Whiting and Jefferson streets, when three people in an orange Infiniti J30 got into a dispute with them about which car was better, police said.

Doster and his friends left the club but encountered the Infiniti again at Salems Gyro Shop at 1611 N Nebraska Ave. in Ybor City.

Police say Roman, the driver of the Infiniti though not the owner, got out and fired as many as five shots at the Oldsmobile with a large-caliber gun.

Doster was sitting behind the driver, and was the only one hit. He died later at Tampa General Hospital.

Castillo said Roman denies having an argument with Doster and his friends or riding in the orange Infiniti J30. He said he was at an Ybor City club early Sunday but did not talk to Doster.

At the funeral word reached Primus that his friend's accused killer was turning himself in.

"It was senseless, it was ruthless _ just a heartless act," Primus said of the murder.

Said Delo Faulk, 21, another childhood friend: "In a time and a place, it's going to come back to him. He's going to spend time in jail."

At Vanderbilt, people knew Doster as a determined but undersized running back who wore size 8{ shoes and found himself dwarfed by teammates and opposing players.

"Everyone told him, "You couldn't,' "You couldn't,' "You couldn't,' and he was hell-bent on showing you he could," said Rick Stewart, who works with the Vanderbilt football team. "You got those big old guys running wide open, they'd blast him, but he'd get right back up."

Majid "Magic" Noori, the team cook, is proud that he was able to put 20 to 25 pounds on Doster's frame during three years at Vanderbilt. Other players clamored for food. Noori knew Doster would want what he always wanted: hot wings and cheeseburgers.

"All the other guys were jumping up and down," Noori said. "He was real quiet."

That's how Doster's teammates said goodbye to him after the service: shoulder to shoulder, watching quietly.

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