GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A north Florida man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend's father.
As part of a deal with Alachua County prosecutors, Willard Newman, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and burglary with a firearm. He received 25 years for each charge. The Gainesville Sun reports that Newman had been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a minimum life sentence.
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."
Authorities say Newman was waiting in his 15-year-old ex-girlfriend's bedroom with a .38-caliber pistol in May 2012, planning to kill the girl, her father and then himself. Newman killed Andrews, but the ex-girlfriend had missed her bus home from school and wasn't present.
Newman was previously deemed incompetent to enter a guilty plea because he was on powerful anti-psychotic medication. But earlier this month, Newman's attorney withdrew the defense's Suggestion of Incompetence to Proceed, 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.
Newman's mother was allowed to give a brief statement on her son's behalf. Tammy Olivera asked the judge to consider that Newman was her only child, had never been in trouble before the murder and was an honor student in high school.
Andrews' family was at the trial but did not give statements.
After the sentencing, the victim's widow, Sandra Andrews, told the Sun that she accepted the sentence.
"Fifty years is better than nothing," Andrews said. "I just wish it would have been life. Or death."
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