"I'm not going to say I accidentally shot Antonio," Hill says now, 24 years later. "They don't know who shot him. But I was the only one who turned myself in." Twin wasn't caught. A judge withheld adjudication on negligence charges against Hill and he kept his job at the post office, but he never went back to Sherbondy Park. "That was a dark day," he says.

Andrew never really recovered from that day in the park. The scar left on his skull only hinted at the true damage the bullet had done, and he never received the six-figure settlement he won from Opa-locka. Screwed over by luck and the legal system, Andrew would only make things worse for himself.

"He was a good child until he got shot," says his great-aunt, Johnnie Mae Witherspoon, whose living room wall in Miami Gardens is a patchwork quilt of family photos, including many of Andrew. "That's when his problems started."

Johnnie Mae Witherspoon, Antonio's great-aunt, holds photos of him before he was hit in the head by a stray bullet in 1988.
Michael E. Miller
Johnnie Mae Witherspoon, Antonio's great-aunt, holds photos of him before he was hit in the head by a stray bullet in 1988.
Clockwise from top left: Antonio Andrew, a car thief; Rosendo Betancourt, who helped police lay the trap; Roger Gonzalez Sr., the group's ringleader; and his son, Roger Gonzalez Jr., the raid's only survivor.
Florida Department of Corrections
Clockwise from top left: Antonio Andrew, a car thief; Rosendo Betancourt, who helped police lay the trap; Roger Gonzalez Sr., the group's ringleader; and his son, Roger Gonzalez Jr., the raid's only survivor.

After the shooting, Andrew spent a week in Jackson Memorial Hospital. His mother, a pretty woman with pigtails named Carolyn Hill — no relation to Stacey — sat next to him, holding his hand as tubes kept her oldest son alive. The bullet had torn open the side of his head. Doctors told her he might never walk again. Andrew quickly proved them wrong. But his family nonetheless noticed a difference.

"He'd snap real quick," younger sister Jennifer Benbow says. "All of a sudden, he had an anger problem." He would go from laughing to shouting in seconds. And he suffered from terrible headaches after the accident.

"Sometimes he'd call me and say, 'Auntie, my head hurts so bad I can't hardly lift it off the pillow," Johnnie Mae remembers. She helped raise Andrew, who was living with Carolyn and four other kids in a tiny Opa-locka apartment and surviving off food stamps and welfare. Andrew's father, Oscar Andrew, was locked up repeatedly in the '70s and '80s on drug and weapons charges and spent most of Andrew's youth behind bars.

As a teenager, Andrew began disappearing after school. Johnnie Mae and Carolyn began fighting a losing battle to keep him out of trouble. "We would try to talk to him and tell him what to do and what not to do," Johnnie Mae says. "He was so easily impressionable. He would tell me: 'Auntie, I was there, but I didn't do that.' I told him: 'Honey, if you're with the crowd, you're going to get in trouble too.' "

That's what happened January 25, 1992, when 16-year-old Andrew was hanging out with Calvin Dorsett, a 22-year-old who had already been arrested eight times, for car theft and cocaine possession. Dorsett accosted a 69-year-old woman in a parking lot and tore the purse out of her hands. Then he jumped into Andrew's car. Dorsett made off with only $9 but received three years of probation. Charges against Andrew were dismissed.

Andrew was behind the wheel again four months later when an Opa-locka cop clocked his white Chevy at 100 mph on NW 17th Avenue. When officers stopped him, Andrew stepped out of his car but then jumped back in and sped away. A police dog later found him after he ditched the car a few blocks away. The vehicle was stolen. This time, Andrew — still only 17 years old — was sentenced to a year and a day in jail.

When he got out, he met Ladonna Florence, a sassy 15-year-old high school student. The two made an odd couple: Andrew was tall and handsome, while Ladonna was short and curvy, with a sharp wit and sharper tongue. "He was childlike in some ways," she remembers. "He loved playing videogames and basketball. And he would eat cookies and milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner."

Within a year, Ladonna was pregnant with their first child. But Andrew wasn't ready for the responsibility. Instead of getting an honest job, he stole more cars. In August 1994, he was caught stripping a Jeep Cherokee near Opa-locka Executive Airport. While he was awaiting trial, cops pulled him over for driving a black Chevy without a tag and discovered it too was stolen. Andrew went back to jail for another two years. He missed the birth of his first son, A.J., in 1994. "All he knew how to do was steal cars," Ladonna sighs.

Andrew's crimes were poorly planned, fumblingly executed, and never violent. Each time, he pleaded guilty, served his time, and then quickly re-offended. In 1997, cops caught him breaking into a car in the crowded lot of Traz Powell Stadium during a high school football game. In January 1998, he sold weed to an undercover cop and was sentenced to another two years. "Every time life was getting back to normal, he got arrested," Ladonna remembers.

When tragedy struck again later that year, it wasn't Andrew's fault. While he was in jail, Ladonna gave birth to their second son, Anthony. But the child was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. Andrew was out in time to watch his son walk and then start to stumble as the cancer ate at the toddler's muscles. "He loved his kids," his sister Jennifer says. "He would have done anything for them."

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2 comments
anhonestcitizen
anhonestcitizen

Armed Felones in the process of commiting yet ANOTHER series of Violent Crimes. Shot Dead before they could do so. It doesn't get any better than that....

Sendmovers
Sendmovers

New Times has no business reporting the news to the general public. This company stays in business by selling and promoting ads for prostitutes in the back of their paper (see it for yourself). If you enjoy sticking up for drug dealers and sex traffic operations then this is a good newspaper to read. Just tell me where to get cheap dinners and beers like you specialize in and let the real newspapers handle the "Crime" stories. Thanks,  P.S. I'm reading this article and it says it's published on Thursday, May 24th 2012 but Today is only TUESDAY MAY 22nd 2012. 

 
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