After two years of denying his role in the shooting death of 20-year-old Daniel Rowe outside the Blind Rabbit restaurant in July 2015, Erron Coleman pleaded guilty Thursday
Coleman, 25, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, second-degree murder with a firearm and armed robbery. He faces terms of 25 years to life for the murder plus a minimum of 10 years for the armed robbery when he is sentenced in Sept. 25.
In addition to admitting he pulled the trigger, Coleman also named a second man who helped planned the robbery. Prosecutors said that person is not yet in custody.
Coleman admitted he and another man planned to rob someone.
As Rowe's family looked on, Coleman admitted they targeted Rowe as he came out of the back door of the restaurant July 22, 2015. He said Rowe did everything he and his accomplice asked, and that when they heard someone coming out of the restaurant, he panicked and shot Rowe in the head.
Coleman admitted he stole Rowe's wallet and fled to his grandmother's house, who lived close enough to the Riverside restaurant that Coleman could to hear the police sirens.
Rowe's parents wept as they heard Coleman's testimony detailing their son's final minutes. After the hearing, they said hearing Rowe's admission in court gives them some peace.
"It was tough to hear the words, but it's justice," said the victim's father, Steven Rowe. "It was hard, but we had to hear the words come out of his mouth."
Rowe's mother asked why they didn't just walk away with the $4 in her son's wallet.
"I still don't see the purpose in them shooting my son," Raelynn Rowe said.
Rowe was a son and a father who's youngest daughter was born after he was murdered. Rowe's fiancée, Britney Rowin, said their children still cry for their father and it's taking a toll on their 6-year-old daughter.
“There's no way to comfort a child knowing all of her friends have mom and dads. Her dads not around anymore," Rowin said. “There's not a way to comfort your child with that."
Coleman, who was arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office about a year after the shooting, has 12 previous felony arrests and was a suspect in a 2015 strong-arm robbery when a tip from an inmate led police to investigate his connection to Daniel Rowe's killing.
In court Tuesday, he also confessed to robbing a woman in a separate crime.
Coleman pleaded guilty days after News4Jax obtained JSO surveillance video in which he denied any involvement in Rowe's 2015 shooting death.
"Since I got out of prison and moved into the apartment,there’s been a lot of rumors about me, like, for what I’m in for now," Coleman told detectives. "I got nothing to do with that. I don’t know nothing about it. I don’t even like the dude and just want you to leave it like that, sir."
Prosecutors said they will ask the judge to sentence Coleman to life in prison without possibility of parole.