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Teen relative charged in killing Miami High football coach

By AP | Sep 25, 2020

MIAMI (AP) — A 15-year-old relative of a high school football coach has been arrested and charged with fatally shooting him and stealing money from his home, Miami-Dade police said.

The teen, who has a history of mental health issues, faces second-degree murder and armed grand theft charges, according to an arrest report released Friday.

Police said Miami High School coach Corey Smith was killed Monday with his own 9mm handgun, the report said. Surveillance video confirmed that the teen was the only other person in the house at the time, and he confessed to his mother, the arrest report said.

A judge on Thursday ordered him held in secure detention.

The teen is the son of Lamar Alexander, 41, an ex-con who hijacked a UPS driver in November, led police on a high-speed chase and died during a televised shootout on a busy South Florida street. The UPS driver, another suspected robber and an innocent bystander also were killed in that rush-hour shooting.

Alexander was Smith’s cousin, but they were raised as brothers and Smith considered the boy his nephew, the Miami Herald reported.

The arrest report said the teen took more than $7,000 in cash that belonged to the coach. The money was found inside his jeans and hidden in a black bag.

After the UPS shooting. Smith talked to news outlets about his cousin.

“In life, you gotta make better decisions,” Smith said. “We weren’t raised like that. I love my brother, but he’s been making bad decisions his whole life.”

Family members said the troubled teen had called last week to reconnect.

“He asked to come over,” said Amina Smith, the coach’s wife, told the newspaper. “We hadn’t seen him since his dad passed. Corey picked him up Sunday night and he spent the night. I left to go to work.”

Shots rang out at the home on Monday morning.

Initially, the teen told investigators he had been studying when he heard the shots. He was interviewed by police on Monday and released as the probe continued.

His mother called police on Wednesday, saying she was in fear of the teen, police said. She told them he had “confessed to her that he had killed his uncle,”the report said.

The suspected murder weapon was discovered in a trash can outside the home.

In May 2018, the teen was arrested on allegations of making a bomb threat at a Miami area middle school, the Herald reported. That case in juvenile court was still ongoing, after he was declared incompetent to stand trial four times.

Alexander’s defense lawyer, Rod Vereen, defended his client.

“There are many juveniles who also suffer from early childhood trauma, learning deficiencies and mental illness, and the criminal justice system can no longer afford to allow them to fall through the cracks,” Vereen said.

“If the allegations are proven true, that my client committed this unfortunate crime, then here’s a prime example of the system failing this child,” he added. “Should he have been involuntarily committed over the past couple of years, so he would not have been a danger to the community? Coach Smith would still be alive today, right? If the facts are true, who failed whom?”