Miami Herald Report Arrest

Report is solely from the Miami Herald

DYING YOUNG

Boy, 16, charged in murder

One of the bicycle-riding bandits responsible for the death of an 18-year-old was arrested on Friday, Miami police said.

BY DAVID OVALLE
dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

The accused killer bawled at the police station.

His name is Tyree Patrick Walker and he rode a bicycle to escape the crime scene. A Northwestern High sophomore, Walker is just 16.

'He said, `All I did was snatch the chain. All I did was snatch the chain off her neck,' '' said his grandmother, Eartha Walker, 72, who spoke with him before he was booked.

Walker left the Miami police station Friday for jail, charged in the robbery of Jhonna Mercado and the killing of her boyfriend, 18-year-old Garvin Webster.

He didn't only tell his grandmother. First, he confessed to detectives, police said.

Though he did not pull the trigger, police say, Walker can still legally be held responsible for Webster's death because he took part in the robbery.

He is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery.

''It's tragic that a 16-year-old is going to prison,'' said Miami Detective Delrish Moss. ``What's even more tragic is that an 18-year-old died for no reason.''

The identity of Walker's friend, whom police believe to be the shooter, was not known Friday evening.

Police have described the suspect as a young teenager, a little taller than Walker, with short dreadlocks. His grandmother believes he is a fellow student.

Homicide detectives believe Walker and his friend held up Webster and his girlfriend early Monday as they sat in her Lexus after a date.

They were parked outside his home on the 1900 block of Northwest 35th Street. The bicycle-riding boys yanked them from the car, demanding money and jewelry.

Walker took money from Mercado, 18. The other boy, armed with a gun, took Webster's possessions -- but shot him once in the chest.

Bloodied and gasping, Webster staggered toward his front door, knocked on the door and moments later died in his father's arms.

''We cooperated. It wasn't like we were fighting back,'' Mercado said Friday. ``I can't even sleep. I keep replaying it over and over.''

Walker was arrested by Detective Leo Tapanes.

Police on Friday were mum on how they tracked down Walker, whose grandmother admittedly knows little about her baby boy.

Eartha Walker raised him and his older brothers and sister because their parents died when he was a baby.

She knows Walker was on probation for assault and battery; he intervened in a fight for a friend, she said.

She knows he didn't own a bicycle.

But his brothers and sister owned four, which Friday rested against the living room wall of their Liberty City home.

Webster died just after 1:30 a.m. Monday. Eartha Walker doesn't know where her son was at that hour -- she was asleep in the back bedroom. Her grandson was home the rest of the week and seemed normal, she said.

And she knows this: Miami homicide detectives knocked on their door about 5 a.m. Friday.

More than three hours later, Walker was in the police station, where he tearfully admitted to his grandmother his role in the robbery.

''I don't how in the world he got mixed up with that boy,'' Walker said Friday night, talking about the alleged shooter. ``I'm heartbroken about this.''

Two miles away in Allapattah, Webster's family was heartbroken, too.

They prepared for his Friday night wake. Chairs lined the lawn. Friends milled about the lawn under a white tent. Family members combed their hair and dashed in and out of the bathroom. Garvin Webster Sr., the boy's father, was lagging to take a shower. He smiled a wide smile. The arrest gave him comfort.

''I know God was watching out for us. Everything will be OK,'' his father said.

Mercado emerged from a bedroom, dressed in black.

''No words can explain it. How could someone be so cold-blooded?'' she said.

Webster, she said, will always have a place in her heart.

He was a Jackson Memorial graduate who hoped to become a mechanic. He was also an aspiring rapper.

Sweet, caring, passive -- he didn't deserve to die, Mercado said.

''At least I know he is happy knowing they were caught,'' she said.

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