Tyrone Laster, 43, of Lakeland.

JURY VERDICT: Lakeland man guilty of attempted murder

When law enforcement found Chauncey Rollins, he was lying in a pool of his own blood.

He’d been shot in the back of the head and was mumbling incoherently. There was a spent shell casing on the ground next to him.

A Lakeland Police officer crouched down next to Rollins and asked who shot him: “Tye. Tye shot me.”

Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter addresses the jury during opening statements Tuesday, showing them how Laster pointed the gun at Rollins. Laster faces a minimum of 25 years in prison to a maximum of life in prison.

A jury found 43-year-old Tyrone Laster guilty Wednesday of attempted second-degree murder. Jurors also found that during the commission of the offense Laster was in actual possession of a firearm, and he discharged the firearm, resulting in great bodily harm to Chauncey Rollins.

Laster faces a minimum of 25 years in prison but could be sentenced up to life in prison. He will be sentenced on May 5.
Rollins was in a coma for two months. As a result of his injuries, Rollins lost the use of his arms and legs and is confined to a wheelchair.

The bullet is still lodged in his head. Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter questioned Rollins in court Tuesday, asking him about his relationship with Laster prior to the shooting.

“I considered him a friend,” Rollins said. “Before all of this happened, we were friends.”

The two were known to deal drugs from a drug house Laster ran, where Rollins would frequently deliver the drugs and return the profits to the house. Rollins was late bringing the latest payment to Laster because he was $20 short on the agreed price, so the two planned to meet at the drug house the evening of June 10, 2015, to square up.

Rollins received a few angry phone calls from Laster earlier in the day, where Laster threatened him. Rollins told jurors he didn’t take the threats seriously because the two were good friends.

But when Rollins arrived at the house, Laster was angry. They talked for a few minutes, and Rollins said he wasn’t afraid until Laster left the room and returned with a gun, pointing it at him.

Tyrone Laster, 43, of Lakeland.

“You don’t think I’ll shoot you?” Laster asked Rollins, placing the gun on the back of his head.

“I didn’t do anything violent toward him,” Rollins told jurors on Tuesday. “I didn’t think he would shoot. I thought he was going to calm down, and the next thing I know I was shot.”

Laster took the stand to testify Wednesday, contradicting his previous statements to law enforcement.

He originally told detectives he wasn’t at the drug house the night of the shooting. Then Laster testified in court that he was at the house, claiming that the gun misfired in an “accidental” shooting.

Laster also said he didn’t intend to hurt Rollins because he was a “true friend.”

“But you weren’t there when law enforcement showed up, were you?” Nutter asked Laster. “You just leave him to die, don’t you?”

“I hoped he wouldn’t die,” Laster said.

During closing statements Wednesday afternoon, Nutter reminded the jurors that Laster could have put the gun away or unloaded it.

“However, that’s not what he does, is it? He makes the conscious decision to pull the trigger,” Nutter said. “You don’t shoot someone in the head if you don’t intend to kill them.”