Hillsborough County judge orders I-4 shooting suspect Jerome Hayes to be held without bond

8:28 AM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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Jerome Edward Hayes has reportedly been arrested for the weekend shooting death of Fred Turner on Interstate 4. This mug shot comes from a 2007 arrest in Polk County.
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Tampa, Florida -- The alleged shooter in a man's death on Interstate 4 over the weekend will remain behind bars, says a Hillsborough County judge.

Jerome Hayes is facing a first degree murder charge as he made his first appearance in court Tuesday.

Deputies say it was a case of mistaken identity that began with a fight at a gentleman's club and ended with the wrong man dying after he was gunned down by Hayes while driving on I-4.

James Prather is the man deputies say Jerome Hayes and his friend thought they were following Saturday afternoon.

10 News spoke with Prather on the phone, who said he feels horrible a bullet meant for him took the life of another. As for the fight at the club, Prather said he had never met the two men before they exchanged words after they picked a fight with him.

During the first of what will be many court appearances in his defense, a Hillsborough judge told him Tuesday, "There's a strong case against you."

Hayes' attorney Nick Matassini requested another hearing to have him released from jail on bail. 

"[Hayes is a] soft-spoken, nice guy. You speak to him, he doesn't seem like the type of person who could possibly commit this kind of crime," Matassini said.

According to the arrest affidavit, witnesses and surveillance cameras at the Tampa Gold Club captured the moments leading up to the I-4 shooting death of 47-year-old Fred Turner.

According to the club manager, it was Hayes' friend who started a fight Saturday afternoon with Prather. The two were tossed out of the club, but Hayes threatened to continue the fight outside. Prather stayed inside the club.

Deputies say video cameras showed Hayes take something out of the trunk of his gray Ford Taurus, pull out of the parking lot and park along the street. 

Meanwhile, Turner left an adult business located in the same building. 

The club manager reportedly saw Hayes follow Turner's green Mustang out of the parking lot.

Turner called 911 after seeing the driver wave a gun and told the operator, "If he shoots his gun, I'm gone." 

Moments later, gunshots ring out.

A credit card receipt at the club led deputies to Hayes. He turned over two 9mm glocks similar to the bullet casings found near the crime scene.

If a grand jury indicts Hayes for murder, his attorney says they will plead not guilty.

"The question is going to be: Can law enforcement link my client leaving these establishments, heading on I-4, and coming ultimately into contact with the victim of the shooting?" Matassini said.

See also: Family of man killed in I-4 shooting wants answers

Investigators say they are questioning Hayes' friend. Managers at the Gold Club would not comment, due to this being an open investigation.

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