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One suspect in home invasion arrested

He faces charges of attempted murder in one incident and may face murder charges in another that police say left an accomplice dead.

CHRIS TISCH
Published March 27, 2004

LARGO - Josie Golden has raised 23 children over the years, only eight of them her own. The rest have been nieces and nephews and grandkids.

Many have turned into good people. One is studying pharmacy at Florida A&M right now. Another works at a local nursing home.

But some haven't turned out so well. And one of the worst, Golden said, is Antonio.

He began disobeying her in his early teens. He dropped out of school a year or two later. Then he moved out. Since then, Antonio Golden, now 22, has had 28 criminal charges lodged against him, many of them for drug possession.

On Thursday night, Golden found himself in deeper trouble than ever. Largo police booked him into the Pinellas County Jail on attempted murder and home-invasion robbery charges. And authorities are considering charging him with murder.

Police say Golden was an accomplice of Greg V. Hall, 26, who was shot to death during a robbery attempt early Thursday morning. Hall, Golden and a 17-year-old, Henry Echols, broke into an apartment at 330 Fourth St. SW in search of drugs or money, police said. One of them held a gun.

But whoever was inside heard them breaking in and armed himself. He fired several shots, striking Hall in the head, Golden in the arm and Echols in the lower back. Hall fell dead to the floor.

Golden and Echols ran away and later went to a local hospital, where they were treated and released.

Police say the trio, possibly with a fourth person in tow, also tried to commit a home invasion robbery earlier Thursday morning at the Chaparral Apartments at 601 Rosery Road.

The robbers, with shirts around their faces, forced their way into the apartment, which was occupied by five people. The robbers ordered one of the occupants, Breon Wade, 23, to give up his jewelry. When Wade refused, he was shot in the leg. The robbers left empty-handed in a white Pontiac, the same car that pulled up an hour later at the Fourth Street apartment.

The charges filed against Golden on Thursday night were in connection with the Chaparral hold-up. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Friday in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Police did not arrest Echols, but continue to investigate him, said police Chief Lester Aradi.

Authorities are considering whether to charge Golden and Echols with murder in connection with Hall's death. Under Florida law, people involved in robberies in which someone dies, even if it's an accomplice, can be charged with murder.

As for the man who shot Hall, he took off running after the shooting and eluded police all day Thursday. But Aradi said the man contacted police Friday through an attorney. Detectives were trying to set up an interview with him, but Aradi wasn't sure if or when that might happen.

Aradi said detectives are trying to determine whether the shooter should face charges or if he acted in self-defense. He did not identify the shooter.

As for Josie Golden, she was not entirely surprised to hear her grandson had been into trouble.

She remembered him as a happy and polite child who ran to her with arms outstretched whenever she saw him. He listened to her in his early years.

"He usually obeyed me when I told him something to do," she said. "You try to teach them right from wrong."

But he had problems. Josie Golden said Antonio's mother used cocaine during her pregnancy, which she thinks caused Antonio to be a slow learner. He didn't do well in school.

"He didn't learn as good as the rest of the kids would learn," she said.

Neither Antonio's mother nor father had much interest in raising him, she said.

"I took him to keep him from going to the state. When he got older, he got with the rest of them and he wouldn't listen to me," said Ms. Golden, 64. "I told him to finish school and be something."

But Antonio dropped out. He moved out at 16. His grandmother didn't want him in the house if he was into trouble.

"I told him, "You can't stay here and run in and out,' " she recalled.

Ms. Golden said she last saw him just a few days ago and told him, "Stay out of trouble."

"He's loved. We love him," Ms. Golden said. "But if he's wrong, he's wrong."

On Friday, she remembered the pudgy little boy who came running to her when he was a baby. She wished she could have warned him - again - to stay out of trouble. And she wished he would have listened.

"If I could have gotten to him and looked at him and shook my finger at him, I know he wouldn't have did it."

- Chris Tisch can be reached at 445-4156 or tisch@sptimes.com

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