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Robbery victim testifies about night of attack

The man accused of fatally shooting the victim's friend is on trial for the 2005 slaying.

Published August 30, 2006

TAMPA - Jackay Lee Kelley Sr. and Sam Pelham were two beers into a Friday night last summer, unwinding on Pelham's front porch in Plant City, when they felt nature's call.

But when the old pals went to the side of the house to relieve themselves, they found they were not alone.

Only Pelham, 61, lived to tell about what happened next.

On Tuesday, he recalled for jurors how two strangers had approached the home at 303 S Franklin St., one pulling a gun on him and the other tussling with Kelley.

A gun went off. The fight continued. Then another shot.

"That's when I saw Jack stagger back," Pelham said. "I knew that he was shot at that time."

Authorities say Wilson Angelo Graham, 25, fired the gun early June 11, 2005, then ran into the home intending to rob Pelham's son.

He is on trial this week for first-degree murder, robbery, attempted robbery and burglary of a dwelling.

Matt Lawson, a Plant City police homicide detective, testified Tuesday that Graham admitted firing his gun and going inside the home. Graham's alleged accomplice, Charles Edward Thomas Jr., also pinned Graham as the triggerman.

However, Pelham couldn't identify the robber - the shooter had "real frightening eyes," he said - and the murder weapon was not located.

Defense attorney Nick Sinardi said prosecutors were hanging their case on Thomas, 22, who acknowledged on the stand that he trained his gun on Pelham and stole his wallet.

Thomas, also charged with first-degree murder, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years of probation for testifying against Graham.

Pelham said the man who shot 51-year-old Kelley then ran inside his home, awaking Pelham's wife. She screamed, "Help me! Help me!"

Pelham recounted his response. " 'Well, I can't help you because I got a gun to my head.' Wasn't nothing I could do."

The men ran off, he said, when Pelham's son drove up to the home. Plant City police caught Thomas that morning; they didn't find Graham until September.

Graham of Dade City was released from prison in February 2005, having served several years for Pasco County charges including cocaine possession and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, state records show.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or

[Last modified August 30, 2006, 01:14:30]

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