Man convicted of killing JSO officer 25 years ago to learn new sentence next month

Defense argues teen's brain wasn't fully developed

Eugene Edwards gets a re-sentencing hearing in a 1993 Jacksonville cop killing.
Eugene Edwards gets a re-sentencing hearing in a 1993 Jacksonville cop killing.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man convicted as a teenager in the slaying of a highly decorated Jacksonville corrections officer will have to wait a little longer to learn his new sentence.

Eugene Edwards was one of five teenagers who rode up on bicycles in 1993 and tried to rob Tammy Johnson and her friend, who were sitting in a car outside a bar.

Johnson, a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office corrections officer, fired her gun and the teens shot back, killing Johnson and wounding her friend.

Edwards, who was 16 at the time, and two of the other teens were sentenced to life in prison without parole for their roles in the deadly shooting. But the Supreme Court has ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional, prompting a review of the sentences.

As the resentencing hearing for Edwards began in April, Johnson's mother and her family sat close together inside the Duval County courtroom. They came face-to-face with Edwards for the first time since his 1994 sentencing.

"It just brings back all the memories again," Ann Johnson, the corrections officer's mother, told News4Jax after Friday's hearing. "Yeah, he's older now. But that doesn't change the fact that what he did."

Johnson's family members took the stand to testify about the night she was killed 25 years ago. 

"As long as I'm on this earth, I will fight for her, no matter what," Kim Torres, Johnson's sister, said after the hearing.

The defense argued that Edwards has a low probability of reoffending if he were to be released and that his brain, as a teenager, wasn't fully developed when he committed the crime.

Prosecutors pointed out that Edwards has had multiple disciplinary issues while incarcerated and that he chose to bring a gun when he went out with his friends that night looking to rob someone.

"I just don't think he deserves a second chance," Ann Johnson said. 

After a number of witnesses testified, the judge asked the prosecution and defense to submit written arguments and set a hearing for Monday morning to review sentence, but Circuit Judge Angela Cox said she needed more time and set another sentencing hearing for the first week of June.