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Pinellas teen pleads guilty in robbery slaying

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Published:   |   Updated: February 4, 2014 at 09:45 PM

CLEARWATER — An 18-year-old woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges she set up a man she met online for a robbery that went awry, leading to his death.

Brittany Detwiler, then 16, was communicating with Jeremy Mayers, 20, on Facebook, and one witness told police they were going to have sex in Coquina Key Park in St. Petersburg, according to a police report. Instead, Mayers ended up driving to a house nearby, at 3632 Sea Robin Drive S.E., where Detwiler was with some friends.

It was there, in the early morning hours of July 8, 2012, that two of those friends — Scionti Hill, then 16, and Franco Thomas, then 14 — tried to rob Mayers, the report states. Mayers resisted, and the pair beat him to death with an unloaded shotgun, the police report states.

Detwiler’s case is similar to that of Jennifer Mee, otherwise known as Hiccup Girl, who also was charged with first-degree murder after she lured a man she met online to a dark alley in St. Petersburg, where Mee’s boyfriend and another man fatally shot him during a botched robbery.

The outcomes of the two cases, however, are strikingly different.

Mee is serving a life sentence, as are her boyfriend, Lamont Newton, and Laron Raiford.

All three of those defendants went to trial and were convicted of first-degree murder. The presiding judge had no option other than to mete out life sentences, as required by Florida law.

Detwiler, in contrast, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder, with the understanding that she will testify against Thomas during his trial. In return, she will spend no more than 30 years in prison.

Hill cut a similar deal. Within months of Mayers’ death, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He, too, had agreed to testify.

Both already had given St. Petersburg police video-taped confessions.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office agreed to the plea bargains because, among other things, Hill made it known early in the process he was amenable to striking a deal, Assistant State Attorney Susan St. John said outside court.

“That’s given some consideration by our office,” she said. When a defendant pleads early, prosecutors don’t have to spend as much time on a case, saving taxpayer dollars.

The defendants in the Mayers case also were all juveniles when he was killed, St. John said. In contrast, Mee was 19 when she took part in the death of Shannon Griffin, 22; Newton was 22, and Raiford was 20.

Mayers’ family was consulted before the plea bargains were made, St. John said.

Bryseana Mills, who was then 16 and lived in the house where Mayers was killed, told investigators everyone was smoking marijuana when Detwiler asked if she could invite Mayers. Hill asked Detwiler if it were OK to rob him because, technically, Detwiler didn’t know him.

Detwiler said it was OK, as long as she got a ride home afterward, the police report states.

sthompson@tampatrib.com (727) 215-6504

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