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Pasco court hears teen's confession in fatal shooting

DADE CITY - Jurors listened for 40 minutes to a 2010 recorded interview Wednesday as 14-year-old Harleme Larry confessed to a murder. Larry, now 17, is on trial for the July 10, 2010, murder of Agustin Hernandez, who was shot in the chest during what authorities say was a botched robbery in the Tommytown section of Dade City. Larry testified late Wednesday that he was at home at the time of the shooting. He said he attended a party that night at a club near his home. At the time of the shooting, between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m., Larry said: "I was at home getting ready for bed."
During the 2010 recorded interview with two Pasco sheriff's detectives only days after the murder, Larry said the .45-caliber handgun he held in his hand accidentally fired when he pushed Hernandez away from him. Investigators believe on the morning of July 10, Larry approached a group of men near 37303 Oak St. and robbed one of them of $4. One of the men, Hernandez, 31, was shot in his chest. He was taken to a hospital where he later died. Larry was driven to the Pasco sheriff's office substation in Dade City on the evening of July 12. Following his admission of guilt, which included a signed confession that night, he was arrested. In the audio tape played inside Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa's courtroom, Larry told detectives Matthew Myers and Sergio Soto he was at a friend's house in the Dade Oaks apartment complex and got into a fight with his brother earlier that night. He was upset and left the friend's house and went to his grandmother's home where he was living. Once there, he took a gun, which he said belonged to an uncle who was in jail at the time, and left on foot. He was walking in the Tommytown portion of Dade City, near Lock Street, when he encountered a group of men around 1:30 a.m. In the recording, Larry told investigators the men spoke to him and then asked if he wanted a beer. "I said no, but I want some money, though," Larry said. He told investigators he was laughing. At some point, the conversation grew contentious and Larry told investigators someone asked if he had a problem. "I'll show you my problem," Larry responded. Larry said he was then approached by the men, one of whom swung at him with a beer bottle. He ducked, pulled a gun from his waistline and "pushed" the man, Larry said in the recording. The gun went off, he said, firing a single round into the right chest of Hernandez. Witnesses told deputies Larry had the gun out during the robbery, but he refuted that during his interrogation. "I didn't have the gun out," he said. "I know that for a positive. I put that on my mother's ashes." The state called Myers, an assistant medical examiner as well as a senior crime lab analyst from Daytona before resting its case. Larry told investigators that he ran to his friend's place in Dade Oaks. He said he told two people that night that he "messed up." The following day, Larry said he rode his bike to a lake, later identified as Shadow Lake near Wilson Street and Pine Avenue, and tossed the gun into the water. Sheriff's office divers never found the weapon, but a crime lab technician who testified Wednesday said traces of gun powder were found in a backpack that belonged to Larry. Witnesses also said the suspect wore a red bandanna - a piece of clothing Larry either wore or kept with him on a regular basis. The defense team, led by public defender Tom Hanlon, argued Larry is not guilty of the murder. They contend he was coerced into making the confession. Wednesday was the second day of testimony in the trial. [email protected] (813) 371-1860 Twitter: @EDanielsTBO
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