Tears glistened in Tiffany Willis' eyes late Thursday morning as she looked at a photograph of two cars parked outside a home near the corner of Leon Avenue and 24th Street.
She was pulled back to the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2020, when she heard the popping sound of a gunshot ringing in the air and saw her loved one, Antonio Wright, crouched down in the street.
When he finally made it to the passenger side of Willis' vehicle, she recalled him saying he'd been shot, she testified.
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Wright died later that day at Sarasota Memorial Hospital from his injuries.
Sitting across from Willis in the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Donna Padar in the downtown Sarasota courthouse was defendant Tydarian Moore, 30.
After a little more than three hours of deliberating on Friday, a jury of six found Moore guilty of manslaughter with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He will be sentenced in November.
"Even though this was a one-witness case, the jury found Tiffany Willis' testimony very compelling and very believable," Assistant State Attorney Karen Fraivillig said.
She added that the defendant's flight from the jurisdiction, concealing of evidence, and enlisting others to use his phone to help in his evading the police all played a role in the trial.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter with a firearm is 30 years and three years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Fraivillig said she'll be seeking the maximum sentences for both counts.
Moore's attorney, Andrew Hibbert, declined to comment.
Willis and supporters of the victim smiled and hugged each other following the conclusion of the trial. Fraivillig said that while the verdict wouldn't bring Wright back, it was justice for his loved ones.
Separate disputes intertwined with fatal shooting
Prior to the fatal shooting in September 2020, Willis testified she and Moore had been friends and she'd even let him borrow a car she'd rented.
Their friendship ended after a dispute escalated over the rental getting damaged while in Moore's possession.
Soon after borrowing the car, it incurred damages of up to $1,200 after a supposed girlfriend of Moore's scratched up the car and slashed all four tires in May 2020, according to testimony by Willis.
The tires were replaced with new ones, but the scratches remained. Moore said he'd pay for the damage, but several days passed and Moore didn't pay, Willis said.
Willis, according to Hibbert, proceeded to send "threatening texts" to Moore which included one in which Willis wrote, "Dead to me." She explained in court that the text meant they were no longer friends.
On May 21, Moore met up with Wright, who was in a relationship with Willis at the time.
The two men soon got into a fight near the Purple Store on Mango Avenue. Wright threw a punch at Moore, who took off running. As he was leaving, Moore allegedly turned and pulled out a black handgun, firing a few shots at Wright.
For four months, Willis said she felt scared to drive down Leon Avenue, as she was scared to run into Moore who frequented the area to visit a girlfriend.
On the day of the shooting, Willis told the jury Moore had been speeding up and down Leon Avenue in his gray Corvette. According to an affidavit, Moore almost hit Wright as he sped down the street at one point.
Willis then got into her car and drove down Leon Avenue where she ended up confronting Moore, the affidavit states. Moments later, Wright pulled up in his silver Toyota, parked the car, and got out. He started to run towards Willis' vehicle and from behind, Willis said Moore aimed his gun and fired.
Willis heard a second gunshot as she was driving away with Wright, the affidavit states.
Moore was arrested three days after the shooting on Sept. 20, 2020, in Bradenton by Manatee County Sheriff's deputies.
Court records and previous reporting by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune indicate Moore has been in and out of prison since 2009, including three times for grand theft auto, twice for fleeing law enforcement with no regard for public safety, burglary, and sale of cocaine.
He spent two years and six months behind bars on a cocaine charge and was released in October 2017 with 140 days credit for time served. Prior to this incident, Moore was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to two years probation in September 2019.
Defense questions why Willis didn't report prior shooting
As Hibbert questioned Willis on Thursday, he kept circling back to why Willis didn't immediately disclose to detectives the previous shooting at the Purple Store following the fatal shooting in September.
Willis had been interviewed at least twice by Sarasota detectives, including hours after the Sept. 17 incident and five days later when she went back for a second interview.
"Sir, he was just killed," Willis at one point firmly stated, adding that prior to the second interview she'd been in bed, on medication, and deeply grieving Wright's death.
She added that the detectives never asked her to expand when she told them there had been an altercation previously, and the questions were focused on the Sept. 17 shooting.
After Wright died at the hospital, Willis learned that there was a brawl at her home after a group of people came over looking to fight with her daughter. She was concerned about what was going on and focused on simply answering the questions that detectives were asking her, Willis said.
Gabriela Szymanowska covers the legal system for the Herald-Tribune in partnership with Report for America. You can support her work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America. Contact Gabriela Szymanowska at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Suspect in 2020 homicide found guilty of manslaughter with a firearm