Marcus Oliver, a pudgy 19-year-old accused of murder, took the witness stand Thursday and claimed he had never even handled a gun, let alone killed a man.
"I ain't never shot a gun a day in my life," he said.
Oliver's testimony came on the third day of his trial on a charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he shot and killed Kurt Bryant, 35, owner of a luxury car business.
Bryant was killed in May after spending a night with buddies who had picked up women and were driving around town. When some of the women began causing trouble, Bryant and his friend dropped them off in the 1000 block of 13th Avenue S.
As Bryant was helping a woman out, police said, Oliver walked up and shot him.
On the stand, Oliver said he went to a "rest in peace" party at Campbell Park that night, then smoked marijuana with relatives. He admitted walking up to Bryant's limo but said he didn't do anything else.
A number of witnesses have testified they saw Oliver kill Bryant. A few of Oliver's relatives have testified he ran with them after the shooting, but they didn't see him with a gun.
Prosecutors on Thursday also played a video of a jailhouse conversation between Oliver and his sister in which he asked her to make sure witnesses didn't show up at court.
"I don't want them up here," he said, before mimicking pulling the trigger of a gun.
When asked about those remarks by Frank Migliore, a prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, Oliver said he was just making a hand motion.
Law enforcement authorities have struggled to get witnesses to testify.
Oliver said he previously had sex with one of the women, but wasn't mad she was out with other men.
Oliver's trial is expected to conclude today.
Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8472.