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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014

St. Pete man, 19, sentenced to life in fatal shooting

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Published:   |   Updated: February 7, 2014 at 08:25 AM

CLEARWATER — Just after midnight, a drug dealer nicknamed “Nephew” repeatedly fired at a fleeing sport utility vehicle after a dispute over the price for six pieces of crack cocaine.

As the Mazda Tribute sped off, one man clung to its hood, and inside were three other men and 21-year-old Felicia Vickers.

A bullet shattered the back window and struck Vickers in the back off the head, killing her.

On Thursday, after deliberating for about two hours, a jury convicted “Nephew,” whose real name is Morris Hires III, of second-degree murder, in the March 15 shooting. Circuit Judge Michael Andrews sentenced the 19-year-old to life in prison, with a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years.

“I’m nervous, I’m scared,” said Hires’ mother, Dedra Houston, 40, outside court. “He’s young.”

Vickers’ mother, visibly distraught, declined comment.

The night began when five people hanging out at the Gateway Apartments on Gandy Boulevard in north St. Petersburg decided to go to south St. Petersburg for some crack cocaine, according to a St. Petersburg police report.

They were Vickers; her boyfriend, Chad Hill, 32; Chris Schneider, 52; Schneider’s son, Joshua, 27; and a fifth person, Kenneth Chris, 26, the report states.

Chris told investigators he knew Hires, but after they all went to his house at 535 26th Ave. S., Hires said he wanted to raise the agreed-upon price from $60 to $100, the report states.

Chris balked, at which point Hires punched him in the face then ran inside, got a semi-automatic handgun and came back out firing, the report states. Chris had stepped outside the vehicle and jumped on the hood as the Mazda took off.

Once they realized Vickers had been shot, they drove her to Bayfront Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead hours later.

Hill, her boyfriend, told investigators he persuaded Chris to stay, as he was the only one who could identify the drug dealer, but the Schneiders took off, the report states.

Hires disappeared for more than a month when a sergeant on the St. Petersburg police department’s homicide squad got a tip he had returned to the house on 26th Avenue South, the report states.

Hires was warned that if he didn’t come out, a police dog would be sent in, the report states. The police dog found him trying to hide in a crib, the report states.

sthompson@tampatrib.com. (727) 215-6504.

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