Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Businessman indicted in fatal shooting

A Gainesville businessman accused of fatally shooting an employee in a dispute over payment was indicted for first-degree murder Monday, according to the State Attorney's Office.

In addition to the murder indictment, an Alachua County Grand Jury indicted Corey B. Pryor for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm by a violent career criminal and five counts of tampering with evidence, according to State Attorney Bill Cervone.

The murder charge could carry the death penalty or life imprisonment, depending on how the State Attorney's Office moves forward."I have not made a decision on that yet. It is under consideration," Cervone said of seeking the death penalty.

Pryor, 38, shot and killed Vearl Ingram, 51, on March 18 during an argument with Ingram, according to a Gainesville Police Department report. Ingram was an employee at Corey's Tree Service and Stump Removal, which was operated by Pryor.

Pryor held a semi-automatic handgun in the parking lot of Madison Pointe Apartments, 2701 NW 23rd Blvd., and ordered Ingram to get on the ground, according to police. Ingram threw a beer bottle at Pryor, and the two struggled over the gun before Pryor discharged the firearm three to five times, police say.

"The victim fell to the ground, bleeding profusely near the storm sewer grate, in the parking lot," a witness told the police two days after the incident.

The witness, 19-year-old Eric Woliver, talked to police two days after Ingram's killing, police said. He told police that he was initially fearful about coming forward, and did so only after he spoke with family, friends and attorneys.

At the time of the murder, Pryor was on state parole after being released from prison in April 2006 following a 1998 sentence on charges including aggravated assault, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. He has a prior criminal history of 33 felony charges and 10 felony convictions, according to police.

Bruce Randal Davis, 43, is also charged in connection with the murder. Davis, who is charged as an accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence, helped Pryor move Ingram's body to a swampy isolated hunting camp in Levy County in order to conceal the body, Cervone said. Davis was an employee at the company.

After the killing, Davis went to the 2200 block of NW 9th Place, where the victim was hidden in a yard under some bushes, according to police. He helped Pryor place the victim on a tarp and transfer the body into the van, then drove with Pryor to Levy County between Bronson Creek and Otter Creek, police said.

"Davis said he believed the body would be dismembered by wild animals before it was discovered," a police report states.

To further conceal the evidence, Pryor removed Ingram's belt and shoes, police say. He threw them out of the window of the van as the two returned to Gainesville, the report states.

Davis, who was stopped by police while driving Pryor's truck, initially used to hide the body, toward Ocala National Forest, had been instructed by Pryor to burn the truck, Davis told police according to a report. After he was stopped by police, Davis led them to the body. Davis also gave police the man's wallet and bloody shirt that Davis said Pryor had asked him to get rid of, police say.

Pryor is being held without bond in Alachua County jail, and Davis is also in jail on a $50,000 bond.

Jack Stripling can be reached at 352-374-5064 or

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