The main suspect in Friday’s fatal shooting of a 20-year-old Bradenton man found after the car he was driving crashed into a palm tree has admitted to stealing the gun police found in the car, according to a prosecutor.
Richard Griffith has not been charged with murder in the death of Rosby Peterson.
When police responded at about 10:20 p.m. Friday to a crash in the 800 block of 21st Street West in Bradenton, they found the driver, Peterson, alone and dead.
Police identified Griffith, who lived only a block and half from the crash scene, as a suspect. On Tuesday, Griffith, 37, agreed to speak with detectives at Bradenton Police Department headquarters, according to a probable cause affidavit. During the recorded interview, he told police about a .357 Taurus revolver, which was the same type of gun found in the car.
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Griffith was arrested and charged with possession of a fireman by a convicted felon.
On Wednesday, Griffith remained silent throughout a first appearance hearing during which Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas set his bond at $25,000.
Griffith is the main suspect in the murder investigation, Assistant State Attorney Suzanne O’Donnell told Nicholas. She detailed his criminal history, and told the judge Griffith has struggled with drugs since his most recent release from prison.
“This was clearly drug-related,” O’Donnell said. “He admitted to stealing a gun from his father and this gun is in a car with an individual that was shot and killed.”
“I anticipate in the next few days that he will be charged with murder, so I think the incentive to flee is quite high so I would ask for the bond to be raised,” O’Donnell said before asking Griffith’s bond be set at $100,000 .
But Nicholas said he thought $25,000 was reasonable and appropriate given the current charge, Griffith’s criminal history and recent release from prison. A possible murder charge was not given significant consideration in his decision, he added.
Griffith was most recently released from prison on Jan. 1, 2016, after serving time for for robbery and resisting law enforcement in Orange County. He previously went to prison for earlier robbery and armed robbery convictions.
Anyone with information about Peterson’s death can call Detective Jim Curulla at 941-747-3011 ext. 2224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477 (TIPS) or online at manateecrimestoppers.com.