By Peter D'Oench

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MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) — Almost two years after Curtis Smith was murdered in front of his Miami Gardens home for his jewelry, police feel they finally have the man who pulled the trigger.

curtis smith Rosary Found At Crime Scene Leads To Murder Suspects Arrest 2 Years Later

Curtis Smith, 61, was shot and killed in front of his Miami Gardens home while mowing his lawn on June 2, 2015. (Source: Miami Gardens Police Dept.)

Dequentin Thomas, 22, has been charged with Murder and Armed Robbery for the incident that happened on June 2, 2015 at 17630 N.W. 14th Avenue.

Police said Thomas was one of two individuals seen on a grainy security video struggling with the 61-year-old Smith as he mowed his lawn, before shots were fired, striking Smith in the chest.

An investigation revealed the father and respiratory therapist at Jackson Memorial Hospital was killed for his gold bracelet and necklace.

Spent .380 shell casings were discovered at the scene of the crime, as well as a piece from a broken gold bracelet and a rosary.

According to an arrest report, that rosary led to a chain of events that ultimately identified Thomas as the killer.

DNA from the rosary indicated it belonged to a relative of Thomas. That man’s mother was interviewed by detectives and she told them that around that time, her son was always hanging out with her cousin, who goes by the name “Chocolate,” later identified as Thomas.

It wasn’t difficult to find Thomas, however. He was already locked up in central Florida at the FCI Coleman Medium facility in Sumterville on unrelated federal charges.

A month after Smith’s murder, Thomas was arrested by the FBI. Several weapons were confiscated from his home, including a Bersa .380 semi-automatic pistol.

Shell casings from it matched one found at the Miami Gardens crime scene, police said. Video also revealed a black four-door sedan driving up and down the neighborhood shortly before the murder. Evidence taken from Thomas’ home included a photograph of Thomas’ mother with the same car, a Toyota Camry Sedan SE, the arrest report added.

Police then conducted an interview with Mike Prophete, the co-defendant in Thomas’ federal case. He remembered that Thomas, whom he knew as “Choc” or “Chocolate,” once tried selling him the broken bracelet and necklace in order to make enough money to move. Russ said, at the time, Thomas knew that he was under federal investigation and needed to leave town.

It was enough to charge Thomas with Smith’s murder.

Thomas invoked his rights and refused to talk to police. It’s unclear if police are looking for his alleged accomplice.

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