POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A 37-year-old man from Lake Wales was arrested nearly two years after authorities said he killed a witness who was planning to testify against him in an upcoming attempted murder trial.
According to an announcement made by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Tuesday, Tyrone Burgess was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence, attempted murder, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Burgess previously served a 12-year sentence in Florida State Prison for robbery with a weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, resisting an officer with violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer.
After his release, it didn’t take long for Burgess to get back into trouble. Approximately 150 days after his release, Burgess was arrested and charged with attempted murder, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was released in December with an ankle monitor while waiting for his trial.
“Friends of this suspect described him as dangerous and willing to do whatever was needed to avoid going back to prison,” FDLE Tampa Bay Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell said.
Authorities said Burgess tried to convince the witness not to testify in court, but his pleas went unanswered.
“So, with cold and calculating persistence Burgess came up with a plan to murder the one person who could put him back behind bars,” Brutnell added.
That man was 20-year-old Dominique Harris.
Withholding excruciating details, Brutnell said Harris’ body was found in an orange grove “badly beaten and stabbed.” His body was found by authorities approximately one day later.
After a lengthy two-year investigation, authorities were able to connect Burgess to the murder.
“He’s an evil man, no doubt about it,” Brutnell said, who called the killing a “Horrific crime.”
Brutnell said authorities are continuing their investigation and more arrests could come.
“Stay tuned,” Brutnell said.