A jury has found a 20-year-old Tampa man guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, conspiracy and robbery, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Jy’Quale Samari Grable, Aquavious Smith and Elijah Bell drove to Valrico Station Apartments, 108 Valrico Station Road, the night of Dec. 22, 2020, to rob someone who lived on the third floor, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa.
Grable and Smith went up to the apartment and Bell waited in the vehicle, the release said. When Grable and Smith got to the apartment, officials said they were let in by someone inside the residence.
They went out onto the back balcony and, according to authorities, that’s when Grable fired two shots from a 9 mm gun — striking one man in the neck and another man in the chest. The neck wound severed the first man’s spinal cord and he died instantly, the release said, while the bullet that hit the second man perforated his heart and one of his lungs.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene in response to three 911 calls that were placed just before 9 p.m. According to a criminal complaint, each had reported hearing “two loud gunshots coming from apartment 311.”
One caller, a neighbor, also said they had “observed blood dripping down from the third floor back balcony apartment,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office release said.
Deputies found the bodies of a resident of the apartment and another man on the balcony, as well as two 9 mm shell casings, court documents said.
Authorities say one of the 911 callers lived in the apartment where the two men were killed. The resident told law enforcement officials they saw one of the victims let two men into the apartment minutes before the shots were fired.
While searching a phone that belonged to one of the victims, investigators found a call came in at 7:28 p.m. the night of the murders from an unknown number and, through a subpoena to the carrier, they found it belonged to Grable, the criminal complaint said.
They also checked the Snapchat app on the victim’s phone and found the most recent messages were exchanged with an account later determined to belong to Grable. The messages arranged a meeting at the victim’s apartment that night, investigators said.
Grable deleted Snapchat messages and phone calls from his phone, but investigators got a search warrant for the contents of the account that belonged to Grable and found “the same snaps between victim and Grable as those seen on the victim’s phone,” the court documents said.
According to evidence presented at Grable’s trial, his family members helped him get rid of the murder weapon and burn the bloody clothing he wore on the night of the killings.
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Grable’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place on Feb. 16.
Prosecutors say Bell pleaded guilty on April 13 and Smith pleaded guilty on June 7. Neither has been sentenced yet.