Jury reaches verdict in teens' murder trial - WSPA.com

Jury reaches verdict in teens' murder trial

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Charles Waits, on trial for the murder of Kiara and Jermi Brito Charles Waits, on trial for the murder of Kiara and Jermi Brito
Kiara and Jeremi Brito, murder victims Kiara and Jeremi Brito, murder victims
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -


After nearly three hours of deliberations, a jury found Charles Waits guilty of First Degree Murder in the deaths of two Tampa teens.

Waits was found guilty in the June 2011 murders of 16-year-old Kiara Brito and 13-year-old Jeremi Brito.

Prosecutors say Waits and his friend Tavari Grant robbed the two teens in their home then shot them both in the head.

Waits was found guilty of two counts of  First Degree Murder, two counts of Armed Robbery, and one count of Armed Burglary of a structure.

After the verdict was read, the teens' mother Judi Brito cried loudly in the hallway.

Waits faces up to life in prison without parole. His sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 22.

His codefendant, Tavari Grant, is still awaiting trial.

Prosecutors said the teens sold drugs from their home. They said on an early June morning in 2011, Waits and his friend Tavari Grant robbed and murdered them.

The defense claimed that Waits was coerced by Grant to enter the home, and Waits did not take part in the murders.

During closing arguments, state prosecutor Michelle Doherty said "There is no doubt the teens were executed."

"Waits is a liar," Doherty said. "All of the evidence shows the defendants and his good friend Tavari Grant planned and decided to commit and robbery and burglary. And the evidence shows this was a first degree homicide."

Defense Attorney Octavio Gomez said the state's case is weak.

"Charles Waits didn't keep anything from the robbery. Not one thing. How does that make sense if he contributed?" asked Gomez.

The attorney said Waits had a prior friendship with the teens and wouldn't kill them.

"If you have a reasonable doubt you have to find him not guilty," said Gomez.

The defense rested Monday after Waits took the stand.

Related story: Trial underway for South Tampa teens' murder

Waits says Grant forced him to drive to the Brito home to steal drugs from the teens. Waits says he walked outside to get in his car and heard gun shots.

Related story: Suspect's mom to take stand in South Tampa teens' murder trial

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