Alarmed by gunfire in her Liberty City neighborhood, Blanca Colon went to shut the front door of her home. But as she did, Charlie Thomas — escaping a bloody stick-up next-door — saw Colon and shot her dead, prosecutors said.
Jurors on Thursday afternoon convicted Thomas of first-degree murder for the September 2004 murder.
Thomas, 25, faces up to life in prison. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Rebull will sentence him later this year.
Miami-Dade police said Thomas, Nathaniel Roberson, Corey Edwards and two others robbed a man of his gold chain in the back patio between Colon’s home and a duplex in the 2400 block of Northwest 66th Street.
But before Etiquio Napoles could give up the chain, Edwards and Roberson shot the man several times, witnesses said.
Napoles survived. A woman sitting on a nearby porch was wounded by a stray bullet. Thomas shot Colon as he ran past her home, prosecutors David Gilbert and Heloiza Correa told jurors.
Exactly why Thomas shot Colon, who was not the intended target of the robbery, was not clear.
Miami-Dade police stopped the trio’s car not long after the shooting. He gave a “self-serving confession,” placing himself at the scene but not admitting to Colon’s murder, investigators said. At trial, defense lawyers Joseph Rosenbaum and Frank Gil said the confession was coerced.
Jurors deliberated for nearly two days before convicting him of first-degree murder and several other felonies.
Had Thomas, who was 17 at the time of the murder, been convicted two years ago, he would have been sentenced to a mandatory life term in prison.
But a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year banned automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole for minors in murder cases. Judge Rebull can still sentence Thomas to life behind bars, but must first listen to evidence about the role Thomas’ youth played in the crime.