Charles Waits gets life in prison at sentencing in murders of two South Tampa teens
3:49 PM, Nov 23, 2013
Charles Waits was sentenced to life in prison Friday without the possibility of parole. The hearing lasted just about an hour.
It took a jury less than three hours to convict Waits in October in the murders of 16-year-old Kiara Brito and 13-year-old Jeremi Brito. The two South Tampa teens were killed during a robbery in June of 2011.
Another man, Tavari Grant, was named as a suspect at the time, but the State dropped the charges against him just days before his trial was scheduled to start. Grant is currently serving a 7 1/2 year sentence for an unrelated conviction.
Friday morning, Judy Brito, the mother of Kiara and Jeremi heard the punishment Waits would get for taking her children's lives while she was away on vacation.
"You crushed my heart," Brito said as she read a prepared statement in the sentencing hearing. "You killed me when you took my children!"
Brito struggled through reading to the court, at times having to pause to get the words out. A court appointed Victim Assistance advocate also read statements. These from Kiara's basketball coach who said she was a shining star and a smart girl. The Victim's Assistance Advocate also read a statement from the victim's cousin who wrote she was only 12 at the time of the murders, but she still hurts and understands what was taken away from her family that night.
Many on both sides, the Brito's friends and family as well as Waits' friends and family shed tears as Judge Emmett L. Battles looked directly at Waits just after the letters from the victims' friends and family were read.
"Absolutely senseless. For these brutal crimes you are sentenced as follows," said Judge Battles. "Life without the possibility of parole for count one of first degree murder."
Waits looked on with no emotion on his face.
"In count two of first-degree murder, I sentence you to life in prison without the possibility of parole."
Still no emotion from Waits, but his mother, who was seated just two rows behind him in the courtroom, cried for him.
In regards to the convictions of armed burglary with assault and battery, robbery/firing a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon, Waits was sentenced to life in prison.
After the sentences were read, Waits had the opportunity to address the court, in which his attorney declined, citing the appeals process.
While Charles Waits found out just two days before his 22nd birthday he will spend the rest of his life in prison; the mother of Kiara and Jeremi was able to give just a small smile.
After court telling reporters, "I'm just glad it's over."