MANATEE -- Jury selection continued this morning for a paralyzed teen charged with first-degree murder.
Attorneys were sifting through a 76-member jury pool in the case of Ta Heem Blake, a former Palmetto High School football player accused of shooting and killing 55-year-old Marie Lerma in her home last year.
Blake also faces charges of aggravted battery with a deadly weapon and armed burglary. If convicted, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Blake, now 19, and Marquis Sanders, another classmate from Palmetto, entered the residence in the 900 block of 25th Street East in Bradenton by throwing a piece of cement block through the sliding glass door, according to police reports.
Lerma's 27-year-old boyfriend heard someone kick in the bedroom door and attempted to duck. He was shot in the shoulder. Several more rounds were fired, killing Lerma.
A Bradenton Police Department crime scene technician and the residents inside the home are among the first witnesses expected to take the stand when testimony begins.
According to autopsy reports, Lerma died from lacerations to her aorta after she was shot in the abdomen.Lerma's 27-year-old son, who was in another room in the house, grabbed his .380 handgun and fired a couple of warning shots. Blake and Sanders began to flee out the front door. He fired a couple more shots one of which struck Blake and severed his spinal column, according to reports.
When Bradenton Police Department officers arrived on scene Blake was found lying on the ground with a SKS rifle next to him. He has been custody since the Lerma's slaying.
Sanders was convicted of first-degree murder and armed burglary in April. He was sentenced to life.