From the Publication of February 3, 2009
Local prep athletes face murder charges
Two high school football players have been arrested on charges they killed a 55-year-old woman during a botched home invasion robbery. One of the teenagers is paralyzed after one of the robbery victims shot back, according to the Bradenton Police Department.
Detectives arrested Palmetto High School students Ta Heem Blake, 17, a former running back for the school, and Marquis Sanders, 18, who transferred from Bayshore High School. They face charges in the shooting death of Maria Lerma early Sunday, Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer said.
Blake and Sanders are accused of barging into Lerma’s home in the 900 block of 25th Street East just before 6 a.m. Sunday in a robbery attempt.
The teens found Lerma and two men in the home when they entered, and Blake opened fire with an SKS rifle, according to Tokajer. Detectives say he killed Lerma, and shot one of the men in the house in the arm.
Sanders had a pistol in his hand but did not fire, according to Tokajer.
The teens did not count on one of the men in the home pulling his own gun, firing and hitting Blake. Police officers and emergency personnel found Blake shot in the driveway.
Sanders escaped but Blake’s injuries left him paralyzed with a severed spine. Tokajer said detectives have obtained an arrest warrant for Blake on a murder charge, and Pinellas County deputies were expected to serve Blake at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg on Monday night.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office would not confirm Monday night if Blake had been served because he is a minor.