INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A man was indicted on murder charges in connection with the December shooting of a father of three children.
The grand jury formally charged Delray Antonio Montaque Tuesday with first-degree murder with a firearm and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, Assistant State Attorney Christopher Taylor said. Indian River County deputies said Montaque fatally shot 29-year-old Mertilian Leondrious Mesinor – who has two girls and one boy – during an argument over $40.
If convicted, Montaque, of the 3400 block of 44th Place, Vero Beach, could face a mandatory life-sentence, Taylor said.
Mesinor, who went by the nicknames “Tilly” and “TillWill,” was pushing his son in a stroller Dec. 19 when Montaque shot him several times, deputies said. Sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers previously described the incident as “absolutely very sad and ridiculous.”
Neighbor Judith Smith, in her 50’s, said her daughter knew Mesinor and described him as a “really good and devoted dad.” Smith’s husband, Johnny Smith, 59, said Mesinor played recreational basketball as a child at Gifford Youth Achievement Center.
“He was a pretty good kid,” Johnny Smith previously told Vero News.
Mesinor was with his son and brother at the time of the shooting, which happened in the 4300 block of 35th Avenue, not far from Living Hope Fellowship church. Earlier on Dec. 19, Montaque demanded $20 from Mesinor’s brother because the man was “serving on his turf,” reports show.
Less than an hour later, Montaque demanded another $20 from the man, who he had known for the past eight years, deputies said. The man, alone at the time, gave the cash to Montaque both times, reports show.
When Montaque refused to return the money, the man got his brother Mesinor. The man wanted Mesinor to convince Montaque to give him back the $40, reports show.
The three got into an argument before Montaque told them, “You can take it out in blood,” officials said.
When the brothers noticed Montaque had a firearm, they walked southbound on 34th Court, deputies said. The brothers walked several blocks when they noticed Montaque sitting in his black truck nearby.
Deputies said Montaque put a hoodie over his head, got out of the vehicle and fired several shots toward Mesinor and his brother. Mesinor’s brother identified Montaque as the gunman during a photo lineup, reports show.
Mesinor was flown to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce, where he was pronounced dead, deputies said. Mesinor died six days before the Christmas holiday.
Deputies found a 9 mm Smith & Wesson firearm in Montaque’s truck, officials said. Deputies also found shell casings in the roadway that matched the weapon, reports show.
Mesinor’s family and friends created a makeshift memorial by a driveway where the shooting happened. Kevontae Harris, 29, Vero Beach, previously said Mesinor – a longtime friend – was like a brother to him.
“He was my ace, my partner,” Harris previously told Vero News.
Montaque was arrested and initially charged with first-degree murder. Montaque remained held Wednesday at the Indian River County Jail without bond.
Montaque was due in court Wednesday at 1:15 p.m., court records show.