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Conversation after slaying argued at trial

What a suspect revealed - or not - after the death of sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison is examined and questioned in depositions.

By CHASE SQUIRES
Published November 7, 2003

DADE CITY - Recounting for attorneys a tense drive from Daytona Beach to Pasco County with a teenager about to be charged with murder, professional football player Darren Hambrick had little to say about the conversations.

But a Pasco County sheriff's detective said Hambrick told him a lot more than he provided at his deposition, including details in the shooting death of Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison and possible insight into what might have motivated Alfredie Steele Jr., who is accused of the killing.

Hambrick testified that Steele was so upset that Hambrick opted instead to keep conversation light, but Detective Allen Proctor said Hambrick went into detail in conversations with him and recalled specifics about the shooting.

With more documents on Harrison's death released Thursday, other questions emerged over how many people fired shots and what could have motivated Steele, if he was actually involved.

Harrison, 57, was shot in the back June 1 as he sat in his patrol car near the Trilacoochee nightclub Rumors. Investigators say Steele admitted firing a gun at his cruiser.

In the latest documents made public, one detective also says a witness reported a drive-by shooting minutes before Harrison was found dead, while Proctor testified Steele might have talked in depth with Hambrick.

According to Detective James Medley, Hambrick told him early in the investigation, "due to his position as an NFL player that he couldn't get involved."

But Hambrick was involved in the investigation, as records indicate he helped authorities by arranging a meeting between them and Steele's cousin, Nathaniel Vanzant. It was Vanzant, authorities say, who told them Steele was the shooter and sparked a hunt for the teen. Later, records show, Hambrick and Steele's mother went to Daytona Beach when Steele ended up on the East Coast and needed a ride home.

Hambrick's sworn account of that return trip differs from what Proctor said Hambrick told him.

According to Hambrick's deposition, Steele was upset on the ride back to Lacoochee, and he feared the teen was suicidal, so he stopped asking about Harrison's death and instead talked about old times.

But Proctor says Hambrick told him of a detailed conversation he and Steele shared on the ride, offering a glimpse of a possible motive and indicating Steele knew someone was inside the patrol car authorities say the teen admitted shooting at.

"On the way back, he told him that he was, Freddie told him that he was alone at the time of the shooting," Proctor said. "He said that Freddie also told him that he was attempting to scare the deputy and he didn't know it was Bo inside the vehicle.

"Hambrick also told me that Freddie had told him that he observed the marked patrol vehicle in the parking lot, drove behind the Farm Basket, put the vehicle in park and went behind the bushes," Proctor testified.

"He said that Freddie then shot the gun, ran, jumped back in the car and left the area. He said Freddie didn't discuss how many times he shot in the back of the car and he only attempted to scare the deputy, he didn't want to shoot him."

Hambrick's attorney, Aldo Ojeda, said Thursday his client has cooperated fully at every stage of the investigation and has never misled anyone or hidden anything. If Proctor's account differs from Hambrick's, it is likely because attorneys didn't ask in-depth questions at Hambrick's deposition, Ojeda said, possibly because it was information both sides already know.

Proctor in his deposition also told public defender Tom Hanlon and prosecutor Phil Van Allen that a woman he described as a close friend of Steele's, Mary Bazemore, told him that Steele was so upset by the May 10 death of his friend, Michael Reed, after a car chase with deputies, that he made an unusual statement.

"She said after the death of Michael Reed, Freddie had told her that the police would pay for killing Michael Reed," Proctor said.

The depositions released Thursday also repeat assertions that the shots that killed Harrison might not have been the only gunfire about the time the Rumors nightclub closed. Detective James Medley said he talked with witness Latrice Marbra, who told him she was near the club about 2 a.m. June 1 when she saw a vehicle heading north on U.S. 301 nearby.

"The passenger was firing three or four shots out the window, and she said she could actually see the muzzle blast coming out the window," Medley said. "minutes later, she heard five - four or five - more shots coming from the area of the Farm Basket."

And Deputy Larry Raulerson said he checked on Harrison about the same time and thought he was asleep. Harrison actually appeared to snore, Raulerson said.

But before he tried to wake him, he said he heard gunfire across the street at Rumors where the crowd outside was scattering, and he left to investigate. When he returned, he said, Harrison was not breathing.

Raulerson and another deputy performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until rescue crews arrived and realized the lieutenant had been shot.

[Last modified November 7, 2003, 01:17:07]


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