Trials in Ambush Style Homicide Results in One Acquittal and One Life in Prison

The four boys were attending a party in Homestead when they apparently got bored and decided to leave. They drove around the area for a while in Quentin Vicks’ Ford Taurus stopping at a liquor store before moving on to the area of Mr. Vick’s neighborhood of Hidden Grove.

At the same time the four young men were en route to the South Miami apartment complex. Robert Nelson was making his rounds for his employer; 50 State Security, in his company car. He had previously worked as a flight attendant before taking the armed yet un-uniformed security job. Their paths crossing ended in tragedy with the ambush style murder of the security guard.

Nelson was well liked at the apartment complex which was located at the intersection of Southwest 271 Terrace and 138 Avenue close by to the Crystal Learning Center. One neighbor who was interviewed recalled Nelson helping his wife to the door of their apartment in the late night hours when it was very dark outside. “He shined the light on my doorway so my wife could come up the steps,” the neighbor said. Others living in the complex also had only good things to say about the security guard.

As Nelson’s car past the car with the four young men inside their vehicle came to a stop with Vicks and Lewis unexpectedly pulling out handguns and opening fire on their unsuspecting victim. When the car finally came to a stop after crashing into a nearby daycare center the attackers pulled his bullet-ridden body out of the car and rifled through his pockets, stealing his possessions including his firearm.

One witness told police that “I saw three or four men pulling the victim out of the vehicle,” and another testified that: “I saw them hovering over him.” He also said he heard one of the attackers say “I can’t believe you shot this nigga.”

Nelson was eventually taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His death was caused by nine individual gunshot wounds to the head, back, side and neck. He was 51 years old at the time of the shooting in 2013

Quentin Vicks, 18, was the first of the four men to be arrested and charged in the killing early last year. Police had found him in possession of Mr. Nelson’s credit cards and identification in a nearby parking lot shortly after the occurrence took place. The other three men, Gregory Lewis, 19, Malik Mills, 19 and Nathaniel Payne Collins were taken into custody a short time after the initial arrest.

Lewis admitted to being one of the two shooters and on the advice of his counsel, a plea arrangement was negotiated based on the condition he would testify against Quintin Vicks, the alleged second shooter as well as the other two young men. Lewis has already begun serving a 10-year prison sentence through the plea agreement that was reached with the prosecution

After the plea deal was set with Lewis the first trial against one of the other defendants took place early last year when Nathaniel Payne-Collins faced a judge and jury.

Lewis was the prosecution’s key witness in the case testifying that Payne-Collins was one of the triggermen that ultimately caused the death of Mr. Nelson. The defense immediately went after Lewis’s creditability telling the jury that he’s only implicating his codefendant due to the leniency of the plea deal he was promised by the prosecution. His attorney effectively told the jury “Mr. Lewis, the star witness in this case, is not credible… His testimony is not worthy of your belief.”

Payne-Collins was arrested after he supposedly bragged to one of his friends about the shooting in detail but never confessed to being one of the two shooters.

Although the jury believed that he was certainly on the scene they only convicted him of grand theft for stealing Nelson’s weapon. He was subsequently sentenced to three years of incarceration.

Later last summer Quintin Vicks trial began and the outcome turned out not to be as favorable as that of Payne-Collins. The prosecution highlighted the credit cards and ID cards belonging to Mr. Nelson that were found in his possession moments after the crime took place as well as a bloody pair of his shoes that were found weeks later hidden under the Miami-Dade police patrol car’s back seat where Vicks had been detained after his arrest. Those shoes once tested had been found to have the victim’s blood all over them.

Vicks’ attorney argued that the blood soaked shoes were planted and a confession that originally given by the defendant was coerced.

In this case the jury didn’t buy the defense’s case and found Vicks guilty of first-degree murder as well as conspiracy. Under Florida law, being convicted of this crime is punishable by life in prison.

The outcome of the fourth of the defendants named in case, Malik Mills fate has yet to be determined.

Michael B. Cohen’s résumé includes close to a combined forty years working as an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting cases for the government and currently practicing as a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for almost half of that period of his professional career.

On the state level, he previously held the office of Assistant State Attorney for Broward County, Florida making his law firm the logical choice to fight all allegations filed by either the State of Florida or any prosecutorial branch of the federal government.

To view his complete résumé and full list of qualifications, and understand what should be your next step if you or someone you care about is accused of homicide or are facing any other criminal allegations, click here.

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