Three teen boys have been charged as adults with murder in connection to what prosecutors say was a botched robbery attempt during a drug deal in a Brandon apartment complex in November.
A Hillsborough County grand jury has indicted Demetrius Bailey, Jamerius Bennefield and Jyi’Keem Henry on charges of first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, court records show. All three teens were 15 at the time of the shooting. Benefield and Bailey have since turned 16.
The charges stem from a fatal shooting on Nov. 23 at the Lakewood Place apartment complex, 1701 Lake Chapman Drive, according to court records and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. The complex is off Lakewood Drive, just north of West Brandon Boulevard.
Deputies responded around 8:20 p.m. to multiple calls about a shooting and found a person in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that had crashed into tree, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrest report states. The person had been shot in the neck and died from the injury.
The sheriff’s office redacted the rest of the report before releasing it to the Tampa Bay Times, citing an active investigation and Marsy’s Law.
The person who was shot was a teen boy, said Kim Hindman, chief assistant state attorney at the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. Bailey, Bennefield and Henry tried to rob the teen and at least one of them opened fire, hitting the teen, Hindman said. She did not have information on the teen’s age or who prosecutors believe pulled the trigger.
“It’s one of those situations that we’ve seen a million times play out, a robbery gone bad,” Hindman said.
Asked why prosecutors opted to charge the teens as adults, Hindman said in general the office weighs factors such as the severity and circumstances of the offense and a defendant’s criminal history. It was unclear this week if any of the teens have prior criminal records.
Court records show Bennefield lives in Brandon and Bailey and Henry live in Tampa.
Janet Howard, an attorney representing Bennefield, declined to comment. Attorneys listed for Bailey and Henry did not return voicemail messages left at their offices.
The indictments mark another Tampa Bay area shooting case in which juveniles are defendants, victims or both.
In October, a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in the parking of lot of a McDonald’s on North Armenia Avenue in Tampa. Police said investigators believe the teen, who was with a group of other teens, was killed during an exchange of gunfire with a shooter or shooters in a vehicle. No arrests have been made.
Four days later, Tampa police arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection to a shooting in Tampa’s Sun Bay South neighborhood that left a 17-year-old girl injured. According to police, two teen girls got into a planned fight. After the fight, the teen boy, who was wearing a ski mask, shot at one of the girls, hitting her in the back, police said.
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Late last month, police arrested 17-year-old Deonte Bishop in the fatal shooting of Zykiqurio Lofton, 15, in St. Petersburg. Police said detectives believe Bishop targeted Lofton because they were affiliated with rival neighborhood groups.
And last week, a 13-year-old boy was arrested and charged in connection to the fatal New Year’s Day shooting of a 16-year-old boy in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park. Tampa police said the 13-year-old drew a gun and opened fire as he and some friends fought with the 16-year-old boy.