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The Criminal Trial of Charles Waits

During the night of June 5, 2011, shots rang out and shook up South Tampa, where crime is limited and gunshots are rare.   Quickly, the community became even more frustrated when they learned that two teenagers were dead.   Literally overnight, Charles Waits was arrested for the murders.  He quickly devised a story about someone named “Rocco” forcing him to rob the teens.   Ultimately, the Tampa Police Department was unable to locate this unknown character.

Last week, the criminal trial Charles Waits began in Tampa, Florida at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.  Today, October 14, 2013, the presentation of evidence by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office began with the playing of audio recording by Tampa Police Detective Charles Massucci of Waits speaking with him.  He described being forced by “Rocco” to take part in the robbery during the audio recording.

Later in the day, he totally changed his testimony.  This time he blamed his friend, Tavari Grant, who has also been charged in this case.  Waits alleged Grant threatened himself and his family, if he reported to law enforcement what actually happened.   Ultimately, his testimony lasted approximately three (3) hours including both direct and cross examinations.  This is incredibly long for a witness in a criminal case, but not terribly surprising given the unique facts of the case.

As we discuss elsewhere on our blog, the decision of whether a criminal defendant should testify is one of the most difficult decisions in a criminal case.  As you can imagine, this clear contradiction in Charles Wait will undoubtedly have a major impact on the jury’s decisions.  As I have told countless juries, once someone lies once you simply cannot trust them, I anticipate the Assistant State Attorneys prosecuting this case to repeatedly make that point.  Even more importantly, it is difficult to imagine someone lying about such an important fact when they are the focus of a murder investigation.

Closing arguments are set for tomorrow Tuesday, which will certainly be another explosive day in Court.  If you have any questions concerning the Charles Waits trial or the Florida criminal justice process, contact the Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law PA for a free case consultation.  We appreciate your time in looking over our blog and look forward to hearing from you.