Cops: Suspect recorded vicious Lakeland golf course murder on cell phone

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two men in connection with the “vicious” slaying of 29-year-old Preston Burnett, whose body was found at an old golf course in Lakeland earlier this month.

Christopher Clardy, 39, of Auburndale and Jamie “Jamo” Garst, 30, of Winter Haven are now in custody, facing first-degree murder charges.

In a press conference on Friday, Sheriff Grady Judd said one of the suspects recorded part of the brutal murder on his cell phone.

Judd shared the disturbing video with the media, in which Clardy and Burnett are seen behind a car.  Once they move off screen, you can hear four shots fired.

“This is a hugely violent event, it all surrounds a bunch of people who use street drugs and sell street drugs, and it all started with a young man [Preston] who was abandoned by his mother at seven, left on the streets at 17.”

On May 10, 2017, Preston Burnett’s body was found by a man out walking near the woods on Skyview Boulevard in Lakeland.

A photo keychain left near his body led detectives to a group of friends, and eventually the suspects.

Detectives learned the motive for the murder was because Preston had showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s home, despite being told not to.

The group of friends often hang out at the home.

“It is a drug-filled environment,” Sheriff Judd explained.

When Preston showed up, the suspects agreed to drive him to Lakeland.

But, according to investigators, the suspects turned off into the abandoned Skyview Golf Course and ended his life.

On the video recording, Clardy can be heard saying, “I told you not to come back here,” and “I told you what was going to happen to you the next time you came back.”

Clardy was also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Garst faces the same charges along with a charge for tampering with evidence.

Clardy is due in court for his first appearance hearing on Saturday at 8 a.m.

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