ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Paul Greene, 26, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder on Wednesday evening, accused of taking part in the fatal shooting of a teenager in 2015.
Lenny Acosta, 16, was shot and killed during a Nov. 10, 2015 robbery. Police said Greene took part in the plot to rob him at his home at 2593 Langdon Ave. S.
Acosta was a popular teen and more than 200 people attended a candlelight vigil for him after his death.
"I'm very grateful to the St. Pete police," said Taina Rivera, Acosta's mother. "Even though it took them so long, I got justice."
Police said they learned of Greene's involvement soon after the killing. St. Petersburg police spokesman Rick Shaw said investigators needed to get all the pieces in place for a successful prosecution before arresting him.
"I know there's a lot of sentiment in the community about why it's taking so long," he said.
According to an arrest report, police interviewed Greene about his knowledge and involvement in the slaying.
According to police, Greene admitted in that interview that he was aware of a robbery plot against Acosta, and said he was an active participant. The report says he was a witness to the shooting, but police have not said whether Greene shot Acosta, nor have they identified anyone else who took part in Acosta's killing.
"It's still an open and active investigation," Shaw said. "We'll see where it goes."
Police would not disclose any other details about the arrest.
Greene has twice faced felony battery charges in the time since November 2015.
In April 2016, he was accused of he slapping, punching, biting, spitting on and choking his ex-girlfriend. He pleaded no contest to a lesser related charge.
In July, he was arrested after a witness told police he punched a woman several times, leaving her face swollen. That case is awaiting a resolution.
Greene pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession and misdemeanor battery charge in April 2013.
Rivera, Acosta's mother, said of the news of Greene's arrest: "It's music to my ears.
"My baby was a sweet kid," Rivera said. "He loved people. He didn't deserve this."
Contact Nathaniel Lash at email@example.com. Follow @Nat_Lash.