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Man gets 50 years in gang killings

By COLLEEN JENKINS
Published September 26, 2006


TAMPA - Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett sentenced Brian Joseph Lima to 50 years in prison Monday for two counts of manslaughter and seven counts of aggravated assault.

Authorities say the shootings were the climax of a feud between rival gangs. Lima was affiliated with the Bloods gang, according to authorities, while Michael Roberts and Sebastian Luengas ran with the TNC Boys, a group of young men in Town 'N Country. Families of all three young men denied they belonged to gangs.

The families of Roberts and Luengas begged for a harsh sentence Monday morning.

"I can't understand why a young man can have so much hate in his heart," Angelica Luengas told the judge through an interpreter.

"Anybody who would shoot somebody in the back doesn't deserve to be on the street to do this to another family" Cathy Roberts said, sobbing.

Lima's family said they understood the sorrow but not the words used to describe Lima, who they said was a bright and gentle person, even a member of the National Honor Society in high school.

"I do believe that my son acted in self-defense that night," said Lima's mother, Cynthia Johnson.

Her son, 19, had no prior arrests. Roberts, 20, and Luengas, 16, both had criminal histories; Luengas faced a drug trafficking charge punishable by life in prison at the time of his death.

During Lima's trial last month, prosecutors described a night that began with a carload of Bloods beckoning the TNC Boys to come to their neighborhood for a fight. Roberts fired a gun in the air.

The TNC Boys then drove to Freddie Vasquez Jr.'s house, where Lima was living. They threw rocks and bricks at the home.

Lima and his attorney, Kenneth Littman, said Lima thought he heard a gun fired in his direction. He and Vasquez fired warning shots from 12-gauge shotguns in self-defense, they said. Vasquez also was charged in the incident but has not yet gone to trial.

Lima could have been sentenced to up to 80 years in prison.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or cjenkins@sptimes.com.

[Last modified September 26, 2006, 01:03:01]


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