Court Cases

Brener Convinces Judge Not To Release Portions Of Video by Elizabeth Wright

Judge orders release of convenience store surveillance footage from 2007 fatal robbery.

A mother of a shooting victim had wanted to keep a younger child from seeing his brother’s death. A defense attorney had argued that graphic footage would keep his client from receiving a fair trial. Despite those arguments, a judge ordered this week that some — but not all — of the surveillance footage from a 2007 convenience store robbery be released. Friday, the state attorney’s office in Fort Myers made public clips from six different surveillance cameras that captured the Aug. 25 robbery at the Pik N Run on Alico Road in San Carlos Park. One of the clerks working that night, Gerald Rabon, a 20-year-old from Fort Myers who was involved with a Lee County Sheriff’s Office program for young people interested in law enforcement, was shot in the head during the robbery.

He died six days later from his injuries. Iris Moreland, 27, and Chad Moreland, now 25, have both been arrested and charged with first-degree felony murder, armed robbery and grand theft of a motor vehicle. In the clips released this week, there is no footage of any shooting or of the back storage room where Rabon’s co-worker said it happened. The last time Rabon appears in the footage is as he walks from the front counter to the back of the store. Then, right about 9:30 p.m., two people run into the store and head straight for that back room. One, who appears to be a woman, is wearing an orange jacket, gloves and fabric over her head. The other, a smaller man, appears to have a weapon and is dressed all in black. The man’s head appears to be covered by fabric of some kind as well.

After coming out of the back room, the woman in the orange jacket can be seen pulling out the tray of cash in the register and also piles items into a trash can. At times, her face is visible. Rabon’s co-worker that night, Elizabeth Reed, 21, told detectives that Rabon had instantly “started to tussle with the black male and tried to grab the gun away from him,” and that the man hit him in the face and shot him. At the time of the robbery, Reed was out on bond after a 2006 arrest on charges of a home invasion robbery and felony murder. In the surveillance video, both robbers shove Reed, and the man grabs her shirt at her neck and appears to put a weapon to her back. She told detectives that they asked for keys to her 2005 Chevy Malibu in addition to keys to the store safe. After they leave, Reed puts her hands to her face, paces, then checks the back room. After about a minute, she crouches behind the store counter and makes a phone call.

The video also shows customers continuing to come into store after the robbery, then leaving with their mouths open. Surveillance tape that shows the Hess gas station outside the convenience store has been edited, removing the minutes during the robbery. Earlier this year, David Brener, an attorney who is defending Iris Moreland in this case, argued that releasing the video would keep his client from being able to have a fair trial in Lee County. Rabon’s mother also asked that the video not be released. She told a judge in February that she didn’t want Rabon’s younger brother to see it.

Through the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Rabon’s mother has asked for privacy this week following the judge’s decision.