Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Suspects in cop's slaying forged bond quickly

Sarah Lundy and Maya Bell

Sentinel Staff Writers

October 10, 2007

Neighbors warned Hugo Terry about Davin Smith who, at 19, already had spent 3 1/2 years in a Florida prison.

But the 17-year-old Terry didn't listen, investigators said, as he gravitated toward the ex-con in August after moving into the same apartment complex off Silver Star Road near Hiawassee Road.

"They hung around each other," Orange County sheriff's Detective Christopher Williams said. "They developed a bond in a short period of time."

On Tuesday, the two were indicted by an Orange County grand jury in last week's slaying of off-duty Orlando police Officer Alfred Gordon. They are charged with first-degree murder with a firearm and attempted robbery with a firearm.

Grand jurors also charged them with armed robbery of a man whose ATM card the two were accused of trying to use when they encountered Gordon.

Terry, identified by detectives as the getaway driver, will be charged as an adult and moved from juvenile detention to the Orange County Jail.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar said prosecutors will review the case against Smith -- identified as the shooter -- to decide whether to pursue the death penalty.

Gordon, 52, had withdrawn cash from a Bank of America automated-teller machine and was walking back to his car when he was killed at the corner of Silver Star and North Hiawassee roads.

Although they lived less than a mile from the bank, the teens charged in Gordon's death are from Miami -- both recent arrivals to Central Florida.

Moved into apartment

Terry moved to Orlando a few months ago and moved in with a family at the Silver Hills Apartments. Though not related to the residents, Terry considered them family, Williams said.

He often returned to Miami to stay with his mother, the detective said.

When he was 14, he was nabbed stealing six or seven PlayStation games, worth about $55 each, from a 14-year-old boy who was riding his bike on a North Miami street, according to police. The outcome of the case was unavailable.

"We're trying to find out more" about him, Williams said.

A woman who answered the door at Terry's Pine Hills address Monday said she was visiting from Miami and knew nothing about Terry or the case.

Smith's background is better-documented because of his more extensive contact with the justice system.

He arrived at Silver Hills in August, moving in with his mother after being released from Indian River Correctional Institution in Vero Beach.

He was sentenced to the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation boot camp in March 2003 as part of a plea deal for an Oct. 27, 2002, armed robbery when he was 14, court records show.

The negotiated plea required Smith to spend two years on community control, testify against his co-defendant and successfully complete the boot-camp program.

According to court records, Smith was driving a white Dodge Neon when he and another 14-year-old boy with him spotted a schoolmate of Smith's on a motor scooter. Wearing a scarf over his face, the other teen hopped out of the car with a BB gun and demanded the motorbike.

The schoolmate later told police he knew the driver of the Neon from Jan Mann Opportunity School in Opa-locka, a last-resort school for students with behavioral problems.

The victim picked out Smith's photo from a police lineup; then Smith identified his 14-year-old passenger as the gunman.

Prosecutors transferred Smith's case to adult court, where he faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison because a gun was used during the robbery.

The state waived the mandatory sentence because Smith had not wielded the gun, according to a memo by Assistant State Attorney Cari Robins.

The prosecutor also said Smith was offered a reduced sentence because of his age, his help in identifying the gunman, a lack of prior convictions and willingness to testify.

Smith pleaded guilty to the robbery in March 2003 and shortly thereafter started boot camp, a regimented program next to the county stockade consisting of marching drills, manual labor, physical training and courses in decision-making and personal development.

But that November he was discharged from the program for assaulting another cadet in a bathroom. According to court records, he had been counseled on "several occasions" about his aggressive behavior and had been written up at least once before for slapping another cadet in the face five months earlier.

Plea-deal violation

The discharge violated his plea deal and resulted in a five-year sentence as a youthful offender in state prison. He got 471 days' credit -- time served in jail, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

As part of the youthful-offender program, Smith completed a literacy program and attended basic-education classes in prison. He also racked up nearly a dozen violations, such as disobeying orders, lying to the staff, lewd acts and fighting.

Before he was released in August, Smith took classes that focused on how to find and keep a job, problem solving, decision making and legal responsibilities, the DOC said

He was placed on community control, which is similar to house arrest. He submitted his weekly schedule to be approved by his probation officer.

His mother, Brenda Sheffield, wanted to move her family to Georgia but couldn't because of her son's community-control status. She then planned to move back to Miami, according to the DOC.

Smith "did not like the idea of being on community control," correctional probation senior officer Butch Simco said in an e-mail to the Orlando Sentinel. "However, he was compliant with conditions and looked forward to his mother's plan to relocate the family."

Amid all this, Smith met Terry and embarked on a course that could lead back to state prison.

Christopher Sherman of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Sarah Lundy can be reached at or 407-420-6218. Maya Bell can be reached at or 305-810-5003.

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