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    Teenager guilty of tile setter's murder

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000


    LARGO -- A 12-member jury convicted a teenager Thursday of first-degree murder in the 1999 fatal shooting of a Honduran tile setter in St. Petersburg.

    Xavier J. Love, 17, now faces the death penalty. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Ley set sentencing for Dec. 21. Love also faces two counts of robbery.

    In July 1999, Love was charged in the April 26 slaying of Juan Jose Gonzalez in a home invasion robbery off 34th Street S.

    Love told detectives that he had just gotten off work at Burger King and his friends picked him up. He saw Marquise Jenkins attack Gonzalez, and then Jenkins asked Love to help.

    But Love did not participate, he told detectives. He just stood there and looked. He said that during the struggle, the gun fired. Jenkins also has been charged in the death of Gonzalez.

    Love said he did not get back in the car with his friends. Instead, he said he started walking home until his father picked him up.

    But the 12-member jury did not buy his story. In less than three hours, they found Love guilty.

    After the verdict, Love's aunt cried and said she wants to appeal.

    "The lawyer didn't take up for him," said Lorraine Jackson. She does not believe that Love pulled the trigger, either.

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