Jury asks for life without parole in Kirkpatrick trial
State wanted death penalty for man convicted of killing firefighter's wife
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man convicted of killing a firefighter's wife in 2012 should spend the rest of his days behind bars, a jury recommended Friday.
For nearly six hours, the defense in the Kirkpatrick murder trial called witnesses to the stand, including Kirkpatrick's grandmother, in a tactic to show jurors that he was more than the man who committed a heinous crime.
But after just 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury came back with their recommended sentence.
"The state of Florida versus Lance Kirkpatrick. The jury advises and recommends to the court that it imposes life in prison without the possibility of parole upon Lance Kirkpatrick," Madame Clerk recited.
Only the husband of Kim Dorsey was present to hear those words, as the family of Kirkpatrick breathed a sigh of relief that the jury did not return a death recommendation.
A judge will have the final say in Kirkpatrick's sentence, which will be handed down May 15.
Earlier Friday, prosecutors argued for the death penalty for Kirkpatrick, who was convicted of first-degree murder, rape and burglary in the death of Dorsey.
The prosecution had a goal in court: to show that Kirkpatrick's murder of Dorsey was cruel, which is a prerequisite for the death penalty.
The defense had a different goal: to show Kirkpatrick was impacted by drugs and that when not affected by drugs, he is not a violent killer.
Kirkpatrick's mother also testified Friday, saying that her son's life should be spared.
"He was fine, he was loving, he was the best kid a mom could ever have," Debbie Kravats, Kirkpatrick's mom said.
The defense brought multiple character witnesses to the stand to ask for leniency, hoping the jury would decide Kirkpatrick should not be put to death for killing Dorsey.
Everyone from his cellmate in the jail to his mother and estranged wife testified that he is not a violent man.
But drugs were brought up by multiple witnesses as an ongoing problem for Kirkpatrick.
His mother begged the jury not to sentence him to death.
The jury also deliberated for 90 minutes Wednesday after closing arguments from the prosecution and defense before returning with a guilty verdict.
Families on both sides of the case broke down crying after the verdict was read. Kirkpatrick remained emotionless as he heard his fate.
Kirkpatrick admitted to killing Dorsey, 38, with a pool stick and a knife but said it happened after they got into a heated argument and struggle in which she fired a gun at him.
Kirkpatrick said he was fighting for his own life and was scared.
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday against Kirkpatrick, claiming he knew Dorsey and her husband and broke into the couples' home and raped and murdered Dorsey in October 2012 while her husband was away.
Prosecutors said Kirkpatrick used a pool cue and a knife to kill Dorsey while she was tied up. Kirkpatrick testified earlier this week that he never meant to kill her.
Kirkpatrick said he was good friends with the Dorseys and that Kim Dorsey was training him. He said he and Kim Dorsey went to the gym three to four times a week and would sometimes drink and flirt afterward, which led to sex a few times.
"It wasn't anything constant. It was random. It wasn't planned," Kirkpatrick said of his sexual encounters with Dorsey.
He testified that on the night Dorsey was killed, he went to the Dorseys' home to hang out, but Derek Dorsey was not home. He said he sweet talked Kim Dorsey, and she had sex with him.
But he said shortly after that they got into an argument about her husband's supposed infidelity. Kirkpatrick said at one point Dorsey grabbed a gun and started shooting.
He said he ran and hid in the kitchen, where he had left a pool stick earlier. He said he ran at Dorsey and swung the pool stick wildly as he tried to get the gun away from her.
He said he knocked her out and then put the gun in his back pocket and tied her up with zip ties.
He later changed his mind about tying her up, he said, because he thought it would look bad when the cops showed up because of the gunfire. He said he found a knife to cut the zip ties loose and, at some point, Dorsey got the knife and they began struggling over the knife. He said then he must have stabbed her but didn't realize it.
"I was frantic. I didn't know what to do. I was scared. I just sat and was waiting for the police," Kirkpatrick said. "They never came."
He admitted that he lied to police and his family about killing Dorsey.
"There's really no way to describe the feeling," he said. "I don't think I said it out loud for at least six months."
During cross-examination, the prosecutor attempted to catch Kirkpatrick in lies and paint inconsistencies in his testimony for the jury. But lastly, the state wanted to hear Kirkpatrick tell the jury what punishment he thinks he deserves.
"I'm guilty," Kirkpatrick said. "I don't know what I want right now."
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