A Pinellas County man was found guilty this week of the shooting death of a 35-year-old woman on Easter Sunday at Wildwood Park in St. Petersburg two years ago.
Tyron Jackasal, 22, was convicted of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and being a delinquent in possession of a firearm after he fatally shot Emily Grot and injured a teenager during a shooting at the park in 2021.
Jackasal chose to go before a judge, rather than a jury, for the trial. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philippe Matthey found Jackasal guilty of three of the four criminal charges he faced in the 2021 shooting, declaring him not guilty of a concealed firearm charge.
Jackasal received a life sentence for Grot’s murder, as well as a concurrent sentence of 30 years in prison for the attempted murder charge and 15 years for the firearm charge.
According to police, Grot was sitting in the front seat of a car in the parking lot of the park at 1000 28th St. S on April 4, 2021, when Jackasal fired into the rear passenger door of the car. The bullet traveled through the door and the front passenger seat, striking Grot in the back.
A man and a 17-year-old girl were also shot at the park that night, police said. Detectives do not believe Grot was Jackasal’s intended target.
Jackasal was sentenced to life in prison in January for an unrelated armed robbery. He was also accused in the death of 21-year-old K’Mia Simmons, who was shot in the passenger seat of a car while holding her baby less than a week before Grot’s murder. Police said Jackasal intended to shoot the driver of the car, who is also the father of Simmons’ baby. However, prosecutors dropped the charges in that case after a key witness recanted.
Assistant state attorney Elizabeth Traverso, who prosecuted the case, was thankful for witnesses who agreed to testify and investigators who helped solve the case. Traverso said prosecutors feel relieved to have secured guilty verdicts in the two criminal cases against Jackasal with which they were able to move forward.
“We’re just relieved to know that now we can guarantee that there will never be another shooting victim at the hand of Tyron Jackasal,” she said in a phone interview.
Jackasal’s attorney, Jonathan Hackworth, declined to comment.
Emily Grot’s mother, Zena Grot, said she takes care of Emily’s 11-year-old daughter and has been relying on her family for strength.
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Grot said she’s glad the trial is over, but her grief remains.
“It wasn’t enough to take away the pain, not only from me, but my family and Emily’s friends,” Zena Grot said in an interview.
“I’m glad that it’s over, as far as closure,” she added. “But it’ll never be over.”