Frank Brice was acquitted of murder after Teria’le Rawls was caught in crossfire outside a Bradenton movie theater in July 2014. Now, detectives say he was driving the car Moriah Hope Goode was in when she was shot to death earlier this month.
Goode, 18 and Brice, 22, were shot at several times at about 4:35 p.m. Nov. 6 while in the 3300 block of Fourth Street East in the West Samoset neighborhood in Bradenton. Brice, who was uninjured, took Goode to Manatee Memorial Hospital, where she was taken into emergency surgery but later died.
Before the shooting, detectives say Brice had driven past suspect Devon Freeman and said, “You better not being moving in here. It is going to end bad for you.”
In response, investigators say Freeman fired gunshots at the car.
Freeman was arrested Nov. 9 in Sarasota after detectives with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Investigative Unit obtained an arrest warrant charging him with second-degree murder.
Brice and Freeman had a longstanding feud, part of an ongoing rivalry between groups of young people from Bradenton and Sarasota, according to investigators.
On Tuesday, Freeman appeared in his wheelchair, as a result of paralysis from a prior accident, via video conference for his first-appearance hearing.
A prosecutor said another possible witness in the case has recanted.
“The witness ... who had previously indicated to law enforcement that Devon Freeman fired the shot into Brice’s car, was interviewed yesterday at the State Attorney’s Office, and yesterday she stated she did not see him fire the shots at Brice’s car,” said an assistant state attorney. “She also stated that she saw Brice with a black object in his hand as he was driving past her and Freeman.”
The prosecutor contended there was still probable cause for Freeman’s arrest, since Freeman was the only one on the scene who could have fired the shots.
Circuit Judge Scott Brownell found probable cause for the murder charge and set Freeman’s bond at $500,000.
Goode’s parents sat quietly in the courtroom during the hearing, each wearing white long-sleeved shirts with “Justice for Moriah” in purple lettering.
Afterward outside the courthouse, the teen’s mother, Janet Goode, was still trying to come to grips with her daughter not coming home, she said.
She pleaded to the witness who recanted her statement and anyone else who might have knowledge of her daughter’s shooting to speak up.
“It’s time for the truth to come out, no fear. It’s time for justice,” Goode said.
Goode had met Brice, who she knew as “Johnny,” when he came to their home. Like she did with other boys, Goode said she cautioned him about disrespecting her daughter. But they hadn’t known his background, she added.
“It’s time to stand up for the truth, not revenge,” Goode said in a message to Brice. “The word on the street is revenge. I don’t want revenge. I don’t want Moriah’s name to go down with some kind of retaliation.”
Her daughter was no longer here to stand up for herself, the grieving mother said. Only Brice and the other witness could stand up for her now.
Goode said she had already forgiven Freeman.
“I truly forgive you. I want you to know the love of God and what it’s like to have a person on Earth love you unconditionally, no matter what you’ve done,” she said.
After a weeklong trial in March 2015, a jury found Brice not guilty of being a principal to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Rawls.
Tensions and emotions had been high throughout the trial, revealing an ongoing rivalry between groups of young people from Manatee and Sarasota counties that included many of those involved in the case. Witnesses became difficult during their testimonies, often contradicting each other or their previous statements to law enforcement.
Rawls was shot in the early morning hours of July 28, 2014, during an exchange of gunfire in the parking lot outside the Bradenton Carmike Royal Palm 20 theater, 5126 26th St. E., near U.S. 301 at State Road 70. She died 10 minutes later as her friends and sister were rushing her to a hospital.
In the wake of the case against Brice falling apart, the charges against his co-defendant Jasper Dudley were dropped days before he was scheduled to stand trial.