Crime

No murder charge for suspect in Bradenton shooting

Robert Eugene Brewer was arrested March 15 and charged with second-degree murder. The state has since declined to file formal charges.
Robert Eugene Brewer was arrested March 15 and charged with second-degree murder. The state has since declined to file formal charges. Photo provided

The state has declined to formally charge Robert Eugene Brewer with the fatal shooting of a man in the middle of an East Bradenton street in December.

Brewer, 20, had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Kevin McCants.

Just before noon Dec. 19, detectives said McCants was called to a black Toyota Camry in the 1000 block of 33rd Avenue East in Bradenton and shot to death. At least two witnesses identified Brewer as the shooter, according to investigators.

Up to three other men were believed to have been in the Camry with Brewer and all drove off after McCants was killed.

Within hours of the fatal shooting, detectives obtained a warrant charging Brewer with second-degree murder, and a search followed until Brewer was found March 15. Bradenton police officers spotted Brewer, but when they attempted a traffic stop Brewer fled. He was apprehended after crashing the car and running off.

The State Attorney’s Office declined to file a murder charge against Brewer citing it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt he shot McCants, according to an interdepartmental memorandum.

Brewer is still facing charges of fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, driving without a driver’s license and leaving the scene of a crash, stemming from his March 15 arrest.

The state decision to decline charges was made without prejudice and could be revisited should investigators develop additional witnesses, evidence or leads prior to the expiration of Brewer’s speedy trial period Sept. 6.

“There is no known physical evidence linking the defendant to the shooting at this point and time,” Assistant State Attorney Garrett Franzen wrote in the memo.

Franzen also said the suspect vehicle in the shooting has not been located.

“People who were suspected as possibly being passengers in the vehicle ... all denied being in the vehicle that day or having any direct knowledge regarding the shooting,” Franzen wrote. “”There are no known witnesses who identified the defendant as being the driver of the suspect vehicle on the day of the shooting.”

Brewer has not admitted to any involvement, according to the memo.

Of three witnesses listed, only one alleges to have seen the face of the shooter to the prosecutor, according to a memo.

“However, this witness said she couldn’t positively identify the defendant (or anyone else) in the photographic lineup she was shown,” Franzen wrote. “ When pushed multiple times by the interviewing detective, she ultimately picked out the defendant, but even then only said she was 60 to 70 percent sure.”

Another witness who initially identified Brewer as the shooter with 100 percent certainty after being shown his picture, later told Franzen she never saw who was in the car. She saw Brewer driving a black Toyota Camry around the neighborhood in the days prior to the shooting but not on the day of the killing.

This witness told detectives Brewer’s last name after both identified the shooter as “Fat Boy Rob” initially, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Jessica De Leon: 941-745-7049, @JDeLeon1012

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