MANATEE -- Bond was set at $1 million each for the two Manatee County men facing murder charges after Teria'le Rawls was shot to death during an exchange of gunfire early Monday in the parking lot of a Bradenton movie theater.
Jasper Dudley, 19, of Bradenton, was arrested Monday night; Frank Brice, 19, of Palmetto, turned himself in Tuesday morning, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Rawls was found dead about 10 minutes after she was shot early Monday during a fight in the Carmike Royal Palm 20 theater's parking lot, 5126 26th St. E., near U.S. 301 and State Road 70, according to the sheriff's office.
Dudley and Brice both made their first appearances in court Tuesday as Rawls' grieving mother sobbed.
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"My daughter is supposed to graduate this year, she only needed three credits. She works so hard," Yolanda Snipes said between sobs. "I just want justice to be served for my child, please."
Rawls' father also spoke, acknowledging he was familiar with Brice's family.
Manatee County Judge Doug Henderson listened as attorneys on both sides presented their arguments before he set bond.
During Brice's court appearance, Assistant State Attorney Brian Iten questioned Manatee County Sheriff's County Detective John Kenney about one of the witnesses to the shooting.
"She advised me that she was within 30 feet of Mr. Brice, she identified him and said he committed the shooting," Kenney said.
Detectives outlined how they think the 17-year-old Sarasota girl was killed in arrest warrant affidavits filed in the case. The documents released Tuesday cast this scenario:
Rawls and her sister left a teen party at the Touch of Class Nightclub in Bradenton that closed just after midnight Monday. The two left in a gold Dodge four-door vehicle and met with two male friends who were driving a white Infiniti SUV. Shortly after meeting up, one of the men switched vehicles and began to drive the Dodge,
leaving the other man alone in the white SUV.
The four went to the Bradenton Riverwalk to check out a party, only to discover it had moved to the movie theater parking lot, according to the warrant.
The victim's sister told detectives they were in the theater's parking lot only for a short time before deciding to leave because the party-goers were from Bradenton. She said that as they were approaching the south exit, shots were heard, and she turned to see her sister bleeding from the head and collapsed in the back seat.
They continued to drive south on U.S. 301 in an attempt to reach Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
On the way to the hospital, one of them spotted an ambulance and Florida Highway Patrol Vehicle on the side of the road just south of University Parkway, according to the report.
They stopped the car to get help, but Rawls was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies who were collecting evidence there were approached by a witness who offered them information about what had occurred at the theater.
The witness, who claimed to have been at the party, said she saw a white SUV driven by a shirtless man at the theater and along the road where Rawls was pronounced dead.
At the theater, the witness said, "The black male fired one gunshot into the air and then another in an unknown direction," the arrest warrant affidavit states.
The driver of the white SUV then attempted to flee, and the witness saw who she knew to be "Frank Brice and Buddha" return fire, according to the report. Buddha, according to Bristow, is Dudley's nickname.
The witness confirmed that the white SUV at the scene was the same one seen at the movie theater parking lot.
Photos of Brice and Dudley were also shown to the witness, who confirmed they were the shooters, according to the sheriff's office.
"The driver of the white SUV was interviewed and denied ever having a gun or shooting a gun from the vehicle," the affidavit states. "His white SUV was seized in anticipation of a search warrant."
Brice and Dudley have juvenile records in which they were found delinquent despite convictions being withheld, according to Iten. Based on state law and since both are younger than 24, neither is permitted to be in possession of a firearm.
Defense attorneys for both defendants argued Tuesday against high bonds.
Terra Carrol, attorney for Brice, argued $1 million was excessive and unreasonable for a teen who was set to graduate from high school in January.
Edna Brice said her compassion went out to the victim's family.
"I feel like my son deserves a bond," she said. "I feel like he is innocent, that's how I feel."
Dudley's defense attorney, Joe Campoli, said social media proves there are additional witnesses who made statements.
"There is obviously a tremendous amount of reasonable doubt as far as this gentleman," Campoli said.
Campoli stated there is a legitimate self-defense or stand-your-ground defense, because of the initial shot fired.
Iten cited case law to argue against the defense.
"When people ... engage in essentially a gun battle as what is described here, the law supports a conviction for homicide," Iten said.
After the hearing, Rawls' mother was comforted by family members as she sobbed quietly.
Her daughter was an A student who never had to be told to do her homework or chores, Snipes said. She was not one to go out and party, but her mother worried she had become more socially active.
"If I had known what would happen, I would have kept her locked at home," Snipes said. "But I wanted her to interact."
Rawls was scheduled to leave for Cheer Camp in Daytona Beach on Wednesday, according to her grandmother, Eartha Simmons.
"She was looking forward to this," Simmons said. "She told me she had her bags packed and everything was paid for."
Her granddaughter had potential and goals of either joining the U.S. Army or going to college, she said.
"She was the type that would give you the shirt off her back," Simmons said. "She was a good girl. Why would they shoot my baby, why my baby?"
Dudley's family and friends were also in the courtroom but did not speak on his behalf. Dudley did attempt to address Henderson directly, but Campoli stopped him, stating he had already advised him to remain silent.
Henderson said it was Dudley's decision on whether he spoke.
"It's not his call, it's my call. I don't want any statements on his record," Campoli said. "Mr. Dudley, I'll see you soon, brother."
Dudley had been a student at the Manatee Y Technological School.
"We have no record of him graduating," school district spokesman Mike Barber told the Herald.
Brice is a student at Southeast High School and had been scheduled to begin his senior year next month, according to Barber.
A manager at the Royal Palm said he couldn't comment on whether they were looking into added security, such as video cameras, and referred questions to the corporate office. The corporate office did not return requests for comment.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Dave Bristow said there had been no other recent issues at the theater.
"We do go by there a lot because it has been a problem area in the past," Bristow said.
Anyone with information about the shooting can call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011 ext. 2547; to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, call Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 (TIPS) or send an anonymous tip online to manateecrimestoppers.com.