Police say brothers had rocky relationship

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 1:10 a.m.
Tensions between two middle-aged brothers apparently erupted Monday, leading one to shoot and kill the other at their Gainesville home, police said.
Richard Crosby Lyles, 40, a University of Florida senior in the College of Engineering, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his brother, Jesse Linus Lyles, 47, Gainesville police reported.
The shooting occurred in front of the brothers' 73-year-old mother, Annie, as the family was preparing to have a spaghetti dinner, police said.
Police said there wasn't a clear-cut precursor to the shooting, but alcohol, reports of aggressive behavior and a dispute involving religious beliefs apparently culminated in the deadly shooting.
Richard Lyles, who was being held without bond at the Alachua County jail Tuesday, fired four shots from a .38-caliber revolver at his brother, an arrest report states. Jesse Lyles died from chest injuries.
"I'm sure these issues took a long time to come to a head," Detective Cpl. Michael Douglas said.
Douglas described the men as "pretty clean," saying police did not have a criminal history for either or know of a history of violence at the home at 1506 NE 6th Terrace. The day of the shooting, Jesse Lyles had gone to pick his brother up from school.
But, Douglas said, Jesse Lyles reportedly had been drinking that day. In interviews after the shooting, police were told Jesse Lyles had an alcohol problem and could become aggressive and abusive when he was intoxicated.
Earlier in the evening, police said, Jesse Lyles "became very obnoxious and was mentioning religious beliefs." He believed in what he called "the seven spirits," whom he said govern the universe, Douglas said.
"Richard said he felt manipulated into an argument, and it came to a point where his brother was belittling him and his beliefs," Douglas said.
Police said an angry Richard Lyles went to his bedroom, retrieved the loaded gun, walking into the dining room and shot his unarmed brother who was sitting in a chair in the dining room.
"I'll show you," Richard Lyles told his brother, a police report states.
The gun belonged to Jesse Lyles, Douglas said, but he previously had given it to his brother.
After the shooting, Douglas said Richard Lyles told his mother to call 911. He then got on the phone. "They instructed him to initiate CPR, which he was doing when the police arrived," he said.
Police, citing the ongoing investigation, have not released a copy of the 911 call.
Annie Lyles, reached by phone Tuesday, said she did not want to speak about the incident.
Jesse Lyles was unemployed, police said. Richard Lyles started at UF in the fall of 2000, university records show.
Lise Fisher can be reached at 374-5092 or

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