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Laisha Latae LANDRUM





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (16) - Jealous rage
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 10, 2004
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: July 23, 1987
Victim profile: Emily Ann Clemons, 16
Method of murder: Beating with a hammer, kitchen pots and a boom box
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on February 20, 2006

photo gallery


Teen gets life for killing boyfriend's ex

By Alexandra Zayas - Tampa Bay Times

February 21, 2006

TAMPA - Laisha Landrum, 18, stood before Emily Clemons' parents Monday and apologized for killing their daughter. In 2004, Landrum and a teenage boy beat Clemons to death with a hammer, kitchen pots and a boom box, hitting her at least 34 times and using the hammer's claw on her face.

"If I could, I would bring her back," a tearful Landrum told the parents at sentencing hearing Monday. "But I can't, and I apologize."

It was the first sign of remorse Emily's father had seen, and he wasn't convinced.

"Any tears shed by the defendant have been crocodile tears," Brett Clemons told Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett.

Moments later, Landrum, facing life in prison, sprang from her seat to defend her composure during the January trial, where she was convicted of second-degree murder and evidence tampering.

"Sir, I'm trying to be strong for my family," Landrum said, addressing Padgett.

Without a response, Padgett gave Landrum the same life sentence her boyfriend, Rocky Almestica Jr., received in January 2005.

Clemons was Almestica's ex-girlfriend. Landrum gave birth to his daughter and lived with him. Clemons had allegedly been seeing Almestica behind Landrum's back.

"Listen, b----. You stay away from my man, or I'll kill you," Landrum said on Clemons' voice mail before the murder, Brett Clemons told the judge.

Emily's father told the judge Monday that he had warned his daughter to stay away from Landrum. But his worst fear came true.

Landrum and Almestica, then 16, lured Clemons to the Amaretto Apartments on N 22nd Street the night of June 9, 2004, investigators said. There, the two pummeled Clemons, wrapped her body in a blanket and tossed her in a garbage bin.

Neighbors called 911 when they heard Clemons kicking and moaning from inside the bin. She was barely alive when she was found but later died at a hospital.

"This was a crime perpetrated by vicious and hateful persons," Brett Clemons said, after he described the grisly wounds inflicted upon his daughter.

Landrum's mother, Kchelle Landrum, stood at that same lectern to plead for mercy, showing the judge photos of Laisha Landrum as a sweet-faced middle schooler.

"Although I look at my daughter in that orange uniform there, this is the child that I raised," Kchelle Landrum said.

Kchelle Landrum also showed the judge a photo of Landrum and Almestica's 2-year-old daughter, who has been apart from her mother since she was 4 months old.

"I can't tell you what to do, but I can ask you to be soft and compassionate for my granddaughter," Kchelle Landrum said.

Landrum's mother, father and grandmother begged the judge to allow Laisha Landrum a chance to be a mother.

"Emily Clemons is never going to have a child," prosecutor Donna Hanes said. "Mr. and Mrs. Clemons are never going to have a granddaughter."

Landrum's attorney, Brian Gonzalez, asked the judge to spare Landrum a life sentence not because of the baby, but because she is still young enough to turn her own life around.

Gonzalez told Padgett that when she was pregnant, Landrum worked at Wendy's. He said her run-ins with the law had been minimal, and that she had completed her high school studies with a GED.

"Laisha Landrum is not a throw-away," Gonzalez said.

He also told the judge that while she was involved in the murder, Landrum did not deliver the fatal blows that killed Clemons.

"Because two people are found guilty of the same crime, they need not be sentenced to the same," Gonzalez said.

But Padgett put Landrum behind bars for the rest of her natural life, with no parole.

Both the Landrum and Clemons families left the courtroom without commenting on the sentencing.


Trial begins for teen charged with murder

The charges against Laisha Landrum stem from the 2004 slaying of Emily Ann Clemons, 16

By Kevin Graham - Tampa Bay Times

January 11, 2006

TAMPA - Donna Clemons put her hand to her face Tuesday and turned her head away in court as a prosecutor unrolled the blood-stained rug where her daughter once lay, fighting for her life.

She closed her eyes when a sheriff's deputy testified how he climbed into a trash bin to check the pulse of Emily Ann Clemons, 16, wrapped in a comforter and thrown there after being beaten at her ex-boyfriend's apartment.

Emily Clemons' ex, Rocky Almestica Jr., was found guilty in November 2004 of second-degree murder in her death. A judge sentenced him last year to life in prison.

Now Almestica's girlfriend is on trial. Laisha Landrum is charged with first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. Prosecutor Donna Hanes said the couple used two pots, a hammer and a radio to beat Clemons on her head. They landed blows at least 34 times, Hanes said. Both Almestica and Landrum were also 16 at the time.

Hillsborough sheriff's Cpl. Daniel Luvinski arrived first at the Amaretto Apartments on N 22nd Street during the early hours of June 10, 2004. Someone had called 911 to say they heard noises - maybe from a trapped animal - coming from the trash bin.

Inside, he found Emily Clemons, unresponsive.

"Can you hear me? Can you hear me?" Luvinski recalled asking Clemons, during the first day of testimony in Landrum's trial.

Clemons died hours later at a hospital. Prosecutors said she had been bludgeoned on her head so badly a piece of her skull was missing.

Landrum's attorney, Brian Gonzalez, told jurors that Landrum and Clemons did fight that night. But Landrum didn't kill her, he said.

"There was only one person responsible for this murder, and he's not on trial before you this week. Laisha Landrum is," Gonzalez said.

He said that Clemons went to the Amaretto Apartments around 9:30 p.m. June 9, 2004, where Almestica and Landrum lived with their infant and Almestica's father. Landrum told investigators that when she opened the door, Clemons barged in with an object and cut her on the arm. She threatened to kill Landrum and her baby, then headed for the crib.

But the infant wasn't home. When the two teen girls came face to face, Clemons kicked Landrum in the stomach and legs, Gonzalez said. Landrum fought back at first with her fists.

Gonzalez said that when Clemons began to attack Almestica, her ex-boyfriend, Landrum grabbed a pot from the kitchen and hit Clemons once in the head. Clemons fell to the ground then got up and walked out the apartment.

Landrum said she heard a "thud" outside after Clemons left. But she didn't check to see what caused it.

Gonzalez said that Clemons was jealous of the relationship between Landrum and Almestica. Donna Clemons testified that her daughter had been pregnant with Almestica's baby but had a miscarriage. Gonzalez said Emily Clemons was obsessed with Almestica and wished she had had his child.

Prosecutors called Marshall Watson, a friend to Almestica and Landrum, who testified he saw Clemons' bloodied body at the young couple's apartment. Landrum had asked him to help Almestica get rid of the body. But he refused, insisting that they call 911.

The jury also heard videotaped testimony from a man who lived at the Amaretto and said he saw Landrum and Almestica making several trips to the trash bins that night.

Prosecutors plan to call more witnesses to the stand today. The trial is expected to last through the end of the week.


Teen Left For Dead In Trash

By Rob Shaw -

Jun 11, 2004

TAMPA - Donna Clemons didn't need anyone to tell her the bad news as she looked at her only daughter's unrecognizable face early Thursday.

She knew right away that 16- year-old Emily Ann, lying in a hospital emergency room bed, would never be coming home again.

When Emily told her mother she was going to the mall Wednesday evening, Donna Clemons thought it was a harmless outing. But it turned out to be something much more horrific: The teenager was bashed in the head with a stainless steel pot inside a north Tampa apartment until two other teens thought she was dead, authorities said.

Then the duo - one her former boyfriend, the other his current girlfriend - wrapped her in a blanket, carried her outside into the steamy June night and tossed her mostly lifeless body into a nearby garbage bin, officials said.

More than four hours later, about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, someone heard noises coming from the large metal trash container tucked in the northeast corner of Amaretto Apartments on 22nd Street just south of Bearss Avenue.

Inside, authorities found a bloodied Emily Clemons lying among the trash. She was rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where she was in extremely critical condition Thursday night.

Clemons didn't want to talk publicly about her daughter's condition. It's too personal, she said. Any news would have to come from authorities.

"I miss her, and I think that whoever did this had so much hate and anger in them that they are not human,'' the mother said Thursday evening.

Hillsborough County sheriff's homicide detectives had the trash bin and its contents hauled away as possible evidence in a homicide investigation. Attention quickly focused on the teenager's former boyfriend, 16-year-old Rocky L. Almestica Jr., who lives in Building C, nearest the garbage bin.

Detectives charged Almestica and his girlfriend, Laisha L. Landrum, 16, with tampering with evidence.

"Obviously this is more serious than tampering,'' sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder said. "This is just a good charge for now, that we can prove right now, and we will continue our investigation.''

Those charges likely would upgrade to first-degree murder if the teenager dies, Reder said.

The last time Clemons saw her daughter, she was boarding a city bus to head to the mall between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Wednesday. They said goodbye.

Shortly thereafter, she was beaten in the apartment, authorities said. It wasn't until 4 a.m. Thursday when a sheriff's deputy knocked on her door that the mother realized something was terribly wrong.

"I feel numb, completely numb,'' said the mother, who said she still had not found the courage to enter her daughter's room at home. "But then I don't know how I'm supposed to feel, don't know how I should feel.''

Clemons said she is getting support from her fellow members of Buchanan Baptist Church and her co-workers at Atex Media Command.

Those who know the teenager spoke highly of her.

"She is a very sweet girl, very nice, very polite,'' said Anita Davis, who used to live near Brett Clemons, Emily's father, on Indian Rocks Beach. "Brett would have her there on the weekends. He bought her a Jet Ski, and they would enjoy the weekend together.''

If Emily was washing her dad's car, she would also volunteer to wash the Davis vehicle, as well. If the Davises had their grandson over, Emily would play with him or bring him ice cream.

"She is the sweetest little thing.''

Emily, who loves poetry and her dog, Moses, lives with her mother at Parkview apartments in north Tampa. She had been attending school in Pinellas County while living with her father before returning to live with her mother a few months ago.

Clemons, in an almost monotone voice choked with emotional exhaustion, said she wanted people to know that her daughter would have offered a great deal, from a desire to help troubled children to making it as a journalist who specializes in the law.

Neighbor Susan Emerson said the teen is affable, talkative and referred to Emerson as "grandma.'' She recently began a job at a Checkers, Emerson said.

Donna Clemons described Almestica as a quiet type, and said the boy and Emily had broken up about a year ago.

Almestica's mother declined to comment Thursday evening about her son, who had a baby with Landrum - whom Donna Clemons knew as "Lala'' - in January.

Authorities say Landrum was the one who beat the teenager in the head. They say both teens conspired to get rid of the body and the stainless steel pot used in the crime.

"Three 16-year-old lives were ruined today,'' Reder said.

The nature of the crime shocked those in the area that is no stranger to its share of crime.

"It's awful. It scares me because I have kids,'' said Rosa Manriquez, who lives in the same building as Almestica and said she moved from California two months ago to get away from crime. "It scares me a lot.''

Another woman, who lives in an adjacent apartment complex and declined to give her name, said she was tired of hearing gunshots and being exposed to violence all the time in the area.

"As soon as my lease is done, I'm leaving here. I have two kids and I feel very unsafe,'' she said.

"What happened is very sad. I was 16 once, also,'' she said in a quiet voice. "She was a human being, a child."


Teen beaten, dumped; 2 jailed

The victim's body was abandoned in a Dumpster. Only her banging alerted passers-by she was alive and trapped inside.

By Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer

June 11, 2004

TAMPA - Emily Ann Clemons was barely alive when her teenage attackers wrapped her limp, bloody body in a blanket Wednesday night and tossed her into a Dumpster at a North Tampa apartment complex, authorities said.

But Clemons, 16, managed to bang on the sides - prompting residents of the Amaretto Apartments to call 911.

"They said it was a thumping noise, and they thought it might be an animal," said sheriff's Sgt. J.R. Burton. "Deputies looked inside and saw a leg."

Two teenagers were arrested Thursday in the beating of Clemons.

Hillsborough sheriff's investigators say Laisha Landrum, 16, beat Clemons with a stainless steel pot Wednesday night until she was unconscious, then conspired with Clemons' ex-boyfriend to throw Clemons into the Dumpster, a short walk from his upstairs apartment.

Landrum and the ex-boyfriend, Rocky L. Almestica Jr., 16, were booked into the county jail on felony charges that they tampered with evidence by moving Clemons' body and trying to hide the bloody pot.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Rod Reder said additional charges could be filed once detectives sift through forensic evidence and other details.

After his arrest, Almestica admitted to authorities that he and Landrum threw Clemons and the pot into the Dumpster at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Reder said.

"They assumed she was dead when they threw her in there," he said.

"They just thought they were moving a dead body. This was very, very vicious."

Thursday night, Clemons remained at Tampa General Hospital in extremely critical condition, Reder said.

Investigators are not sure how Clemons got to Almestica's residence, about a five-minute drive from her family's apartment near Florida Avenue and Busch Boulevard. No one was at the apartment Thursday evening.

"We're not sure if she was invited or trapped, or if it was friendly circumstances or not," Reder said.

Detectives said they know that at about 9 p.m., Clemons, Almestica and Landrum started fighting inside Almestica's apartment.

With Almestica watching, Landrum grabbed the pot and started beating Clemons in the head. Then they wrapped an unconscious Clemons in the blanket.

Tips from neighbors who heard the fight helped investigators find Almestica and Landrum, of 1011 N 23rd St. in Tampa.

School district officials could not confirm where the suspects attend school, or even if they're enrolled in Hillsborough County. Clemons, is not currently enrolled in the district, said spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.

But Clemons is pictured twice in a Buchanan Middle School yearbook from 1999-2000.



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