Trial underway for South Tampa teens' murder - WFLA News Channel 8

Trial underway for South Tampa teens' murder

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Waits is accused of first degree murder in the deaths of 16-year-old Kiara Brito and her brother, 13-year-old Jeremi Brito. Waits is accused of first degree murder in the deaths of 16-year-old Kiara Brito and her brother, 13-year-old Jeremi Brito.
Kiara and Jeremi Brito Kiara and Jeremi Brito
Judy Brito, mother of the murdered teens testified on Wednesday. Judy Brito, mother of the murdered teens testified on Wednesday.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The mother of two teens murdered in their South Tampa home took the stand Wednesday in the murder case against Charles Waits. Waits is accused of first degree murder in the deaths of 16-year-old Kiara Brito and her brother, 13-year-old Jeremi Brito.

The teens were killed in the early morning hours of June of 2011 during a home invasion. Their mother, Judy Brito, was not at home at the time of the killings. She broke down on the stand almost immediately. Brito told jurors she was on a parasailing trip at the beach with her boyfriend, when she got a phone call from Tampa Police.

"They didn't tell me anything," she said. "They told me I had two kids in the hospital. That something was wrong."

She rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where Jeremi was in surgery. He did not survive.

Brito said she had left Kiara alone before, and spoke to both of her children during the evening. She remembered calling Jeremi in the early hours of that June morning, telling him to go home to keep his sister company.

"Kiara doesn't like to sleep by herself," Brito sobbed. "So I called Jeremi and told him he had to go home, so she wouldn't be by herself."

Prosecutors say Charles Waits was one of the two men involved in the crime.

Waits' family friend, Lisa Hammock, took the stand, as well. She said her daughter Alexis Jackson introduced Kiara Brito and Charles Waits, because he wanted to get a tattoo from Kiara Brito, who ran a tattooing business from her living room.

Hammock and Jackson went to the Brito home the morning of the murders. Hammock said she called Waits to tell him what happened.

"When I first told him, he was like, auntie, they don't think it was me, do they?" she said. "I was like, no. He was just like, his prayers go out to the family, and that was it."

At the time of his arrest, police refereed to Waits as the get-away driver. A witness wrote down Waits' tag number at the home as he fled after the shooting, leading to his arrest.

Former Armwood high school football standout Tavari Grant is also charged with the crime, but is still waiting for his trial.

The case against Waits started early this week.

In court, Assistant State Attorney Michelle Doherty told jurors it was a brutal murder and a bloody crime scene. In her opening statement Doherty told jurors there will be no question that Waits was at the Brito home at the time of the murder.

Doherty says, "They used force, they were armed with firearms and this was brutal, horrific killing of Kiara and her brother."

Doherty told jurors that Waits even admitted to police after his arrest that he was at the home at the time of the murders. Doherty says Waits had been to the home before to buy marijuana from the teens.

Waits told police he took another man he called Rocco to the Brito home that night, and thought they were there just to buy drugs.

Waits told police he was forced by Rocco into the home at gunpoint before the killings.

Defense attorney Octovaio Gomez told jurors there is no evidence that puts his client in the home where the murders occurred.

Gomez says, "They found no evidence, not a hair, no fingerprints, absolutely nothing that belong to Charles Waits. There's not even a finger print on the door, there is nothing else."

Gomez says all of the evidence links the other man to the crime, but not his client

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