Man, 20, gets 50 years in death of ex-girlfriend's father
Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
A 20-year-old man who shot and killed the father of his ex-girlfriend last year pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of second-degree murder and one count of burglary with a firearm and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The plea at the Alachua County Criminal courthouse was the result of a negotiated agreement in which the state agreed to reduce the first-degree murder charge, which carried a mandatory life sentence, down to second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. The burglary charge, because it involved a firearm, also carried a 25-year sentence.
After a lengthy recitation of all the rights Willard Newman was waiving by entering his guilty plea, Eighth Circuit Court Judge Ysleta McDonald sentenced Newman to 50 years in prison, a recommended sentence that was agreed upon by defense attorney John Broling and Assistant State Attorney Christopher Elsey.
Authorities have said that on May 29, 2012, a then 19-year-old Newman lay in wait in the bedroom of his 15-year old ex-girlfriend with a .38-caliber pistol and plans to kill her father Ronald Andrews, the ex-girlfriend and himself. The teen girl missed the school bus home that day unbeknownst to Andrews, who opened her bedroom door and was shot three times by Newman. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Thursday, Newman stood almost completely still at the podium as Broling asked him questions to confirm in open court the facts necessary to show that his plea was entered freely and voluntarily.
Newman answered mostly "yes", "no" or "I understand."
A medical professional recently declared Newman incompetent to enter a guilty plea on the basis of being on powerful anti-psychotic medication. On July 10, Broling withdrew the defense's Suggestion of Incompetence to Proceed, which had been based on that medical opinion, clearing the way for him to enter his guilty plea Thursday.
Newman confirmed in court that he had refused his medication at the jail for the two days prior to entering his plea.
Because Newman entered a voluntary guilty plea, he has also waived his right to appeal, except on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. Broling was the third attorney to represent Newman in the 14 months since his arrest.
Newman's mother was allowed to give a brief statement on her son's behalf. Tammy Olivera approached the podium in nurse's scrubs and wept as she asked Judge McDonald to consider that Newman was her only child, had never been in trouble before the murder and was an honor student in high school. McDonald answered her that she understood the entire situation was a tragedy.
The family of Ronald Andrews was present at the trial, but did not give victim impact statements.
Outside the courtroom after the sentencing, Sandra Andrews, the victim's widow, said she accepted the sentence.
"Fifty years is better than nothing," Sandra Andrews said. "I just wish it would have been life. Or death."
Deputy Chief Investigator Darry Lloyd of the State Attorney's Office said the family of Ronald Andrews agreed to the 50-year sentence recommendation in the interest of avoiding a drawn-out trial.
"There are no winners in this," Lloyd said. "There are two families essentially without a loved one. For this case, this was a good resolution to a terrible case."