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Tampa woman charged in online robbery scheme that ended in her own brother's death

Tatyana Gaston is accused of posing as another woman while she and her brother planned to rob a man. But the other man had a gun and shot her brother, deputies said.

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa woman has been charged with second-degree murder stemming from what appears to be an online catfishing scheme.

Detectives say 23-year-old Tatyana Gaston posed as another woman online, and that she and her brother intended to rob a man. But that man had a gun. And now, Gaston is the one charged with her own brother’s death, even though she wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger.

Hillsborough detectives say Gaston was posing online as a woman named “Jada” on the BLK dating app.

There, on May 31 they say, she allegedly lured a man to her Tampa apartment complex and conspired with her younger brother 18-year-old Jermon Kennard, to rob the man at knifepoint when he arrived.

“Things can go sideways, and you can face extremely serious charges,” Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Crystal Clark said. “That’s the case here.”

What happened instead, say detectives, is that the man who showed up had a gun, and in self-defense shot Kennard, killing him.So far, that man has not been charged. Last week, however, Gaston was arrested for second-degree murder.

“If you’re involved in the commission of a crime, whether you pull the trigger or not, you can still face charges,” Clark said. “And that appears to be the case here.”

Detectives say Gaston first tried to make it sound like she and her brother were the victims.

But after looking through text messages and surveillance video at the apartment complex, they concluded the man who had been lured there was the one telling the truth. In a recent public service announcement, Sheriff Chad Chronister reminded people to be cautious about any online meet ups.

“Be careful where you’re meeting,” Clark said. “Make sure it’s in a well-lit area where it’s safer. And make sure you’re not giving too much personal information, as well.”

Records from the Hillsborough County jail show Gaston was released on a $15,000 bond.

Her brother’s funeral, according to the Wilson Funeral Home website, is this Saturday. According to Kennard’s online obituary, he had just turned 18 in April and was completing his senior year at Carver Exceptional Center.

“This person made a horrible decision,” Clark said. “And ultimately now she’s going to face a murder charge because of it.”

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