LPD solves two murder cases six years apart

Posted at 9:16 AM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 20:13:15-05

Two unsolved murders six years apart are now listed under the "solved" column at the Lakeland Police Department.

Investigators said new witness statements armed them with enough evidence to indict three suspects on two loosely connected killings.

The families of the two victims are now finally getting some relief.

"Every night I just go to bed thinking of him all the time," said Ernest Allen Sr. about his son, Ernest Jr.

The years came and went and still no one was brought to justice for the killing of Ernest Allen Jr. outside his mechanic shop on Lincoln Avenue.

That is until now.

"I was so happy I didn't know what to do. I couldn't believe," he said about hearing the news. "It had been so long I just thought, 'Well, nothing was going to turn up.'"

While he grieved, the Lakeland police cold case task force was making headway behind the scenes.

"His street name was Cut Throat," said Sgt. Brian Wallace, referring to suspect Kaheem Bennett, who was just 15 years old at the time.

Investigators said new witness statements pointed to him as the killer, along with his counterpart, Reeshemaha Pearson, 16 years old at the time.

They both have long criminal histories and were already in jail when a grand jury indicted them on new murder charges thanks to people finally coming forward.

"I think moms, dads, aunts and uncles quite frankly just got fed up with the amount of violence that was occurring and they said, 'You know what? We're tired of it,'" Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said.

During the investigation, detectives gathered enough evidence to crack another murder case from two years ago.

In January 2014, Jamal Flemming was shot and killed outside the Admiral gas station on Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland.

Flemming was pumping gas, but it turns out the target of that bullet was intended for Kaheem Bennett sitting in the car.

A grand jury just indicted rival gang member Sidney Mells.

"It seems like anywhere that Mr. Bennett goes, either he is involved in someone's unfortunate events or he is the reason someone is getting either injured or shot," Wallace said.

Families of the victims now have at least some closure.

"I just wish he was still living today," Allen said.