Convicted killer of 5 may receive death penalty
A Miami man was convicted of executing five men inside a Liberty City apartment in January 1997 during a drug heist.
BY DAVID OVALLEdovalle@MiamiHerald.com
Tavares Calloway, convicted Thursday of executing five men in a Liberty City drug heist in 1997, must now face the same jurors who found him guilty -- and his life hangs in the balance.
The 12-person jury will reconvene Sept. 14 to decide if Calloway should be put to death.
Tammy Robinson, aunt of victim Trenton Thomas, wants death.
``Because you reap what you sow,'' she said, puffy-eyed but smiling after jurors delivered their guilty verdict.
The panel convicted Calloway of five counts of first-degree murder and one count each of robbery with a firearm, kidnapping and burglary of an occupied dwelling.
The decision capped a three-month trial, another chapter in a 12-year-old case that Miami police detectives called one of the bloodiest crime scenes in recent memory.
Calloway and another man seeking drugs and money stormed an apartment in January 1997, hogtied five men, taped their mouths shut and removed their pants. After debating whom to leave alive, Calloway methodically shot each in the head, prosecutors said.
The dead were drug dealers Adolphus ``Tank'' Melvin, 27; Gary St. Charles, 22; Thomas, 26; Frederick McGuire, 31, and Melvin's visiting nephew, Derwin Bernard Copeland, 28.
The case remained cold for more than a year until detectives investigating another murder learned about Antonio Clark, whose fingerprint was matched to one at the massacre scene. He led police to Calloway, who detectives said also confessed in detail.
Clark was convicted last year. He is serving life.
With no fingerprints, physical evidence or eyewitnesses to the gunfire to link Calloway to the murders, his confession became the focal point of the case.
Calloway, during trial, testified that homicide detectives pressured him to falsely confess with the promise it would help catch the real killers.
Jurors began deliberating Monday. They were sequestered in an undisclosed hotel.
In the crowded courtroom of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis on Thursday, a clerk read: ``Guilty on count one.''
Shelby Goodman, Melvin's cousin, gasped. He clapped loudly. Tears streamed down his cheeks. Tunis silenced the room. Guilty on all counts, the clerk continued.
Calloway, dressed in a purple dress shirt and gray sweater vest, betrayed no emotion.
He shook the hands of his attorneys, Sydney Smith and Scott Sakin, saluted his family and surrendered to corrections deputies.
``He understands the process. He understands we have to fight further,'' Sakin said.
Outside court, prosecutor Susan Dechovitz, fighting back tears, hugged family members and Al Borges, the lead detective.
``It's been a long journey, particularly for the families,'' Borges said. ``For 12 years they've been going through this.''
Goodman, now calmed, grimaced, saying: ``In total, the entire community lost seven people: five victims and two defendants. We won, but in reality, the city of Miami lost.'' http://www.miamiherald.com/news/5min/story/1165081.html