He's accused of killing a man he met at a bar in 2008. Now jurors will decide his fate.


An Oklahoma man returned to a jail cell in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday evening after waiting for a jury to decide whether he is guilty of a murder that took place just over 10 years ago.

James Gentry, 40, told the jury this week that he had nothing to do with the murder of Ralph Apuzzo, 64. The culprit, Gentry said, was his own brother, Tim Gentry, who’s now serving a 10-year sentence for second-degree murder after pleading no contest in the same case.

The jury heard from both brothers, and attorneys say the case hinges on which brother was more credible.

According to Tim Gentry, the brothers met Apuzzo at a Wilton Manors bar in December 2008, accompanied him to his Coconut Creek home, then robbed him. Killing Apuzzo was James Gentry’s idea, his brother said.

James Gentry said he wasn’t there when Apuzzo was robbed, gagged and left to die.

DNA at the scene tied James Gentry to the murder, said prosecutor Antonya Johnson. The men were identified as suspects in 2012. James Gentry was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His brother was serving a prison term in Nevada for an unrelated crime.

At his arrest, James Gentry denied ever being in Broward County, Johnson said.

Tim Gentry pled out in 2014. After his prison sentence is over, he will spend 20 years on probation. As part of his agreement to testify against his brother, prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the case.

Defense lawyer H. Dohn Williams said James Gentry had a sexual encounter with the victim that explains the presence of his DNA.

But Assistant State Attorney Molly McGuire, a second prosecutor on the case, reminded jurors of jailhouse phone calls in which Gentry talked about his role in the case, never implying he was innocent.

The jury deliberated for two hours Thursday without reaching a decision. Jurors will return to Broward Circuit Judge Michael Usan’s courtroom Friday to continue their work.

rolmeda@SunSentinel.com, 954-356-4457, Twitter @SSCourts and @rolmeda


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