Man sentenced to 20+ years in Blind Rabbit murder
Devonte Hanford 2nd man to plead guilty in Daniel Rowe's slaying
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man charged in connection with the shooting death of a Riverside restaurant worker during a robbery will spend the next 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Thursday morning to murder and other charges.
Devonte Hanford, 23, admitted to his role in the slaying of Daniel Rowe, who was killed while taking out the garbage on July 22, 2015, in an alley behind the Blind Rabbit on King Street. Police said Hanford and Erron Coleman had tried to rob Rowe and were seen running away from the scene after he was shot.
Investigators said Coleman fired the fatal bullet, but because Hanford was involved in the felony robbery with Coleman, he was also charged with murder, per Florida law.
Hanford pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and armed robbery and was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on each charge.
He also pleaded guilty in three other cases, including marijuana possession, probation violation and battery in a detention facility. He was sentenced to five years in the battery case and 15 years for the probation violation.
Hanford's sentences will all run concurrently.
Rowe's parents, Steven and Raelyn Rowe, have followed every step of the case and said Thursday that Hanford's plea deal doesn't give them closure but is a step toward justice.
"In the criminal case, it’s the next step. As for the healing part, it will never be the same," Steven Rowe said.
Raelyn Rowe said the attitude of the man involved in her son's death disturbs her.
"I don’t think I will ever get a chance to say to him the things I would like to say to him, because I still, I don’t feel like I see any remorse in his eyes," Raelyn Rowe said. "I don’t think he even acknowledges the depth of taking Daniel."
Rowe’s parents said the support they've received from the community has helped them get through the difficult time. They have been trying to carry on their son’s legacy through his fiancee and his children.
Raelyn Rowe said she has a message for her slain son.
"I love you. I miss you every day. I would give anything to have that one more time to hold you in my arms," she said. "But we will take care of your girls, and we will make sure your legacy lives on and nobody forgets who you were, what you meant us."
Now the Rowe family waits again, knowing another step toward justice is a couple of weeks away.
Coleman, 27, who had already pleaded guilty to shooting Rowe, has a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 18. He is facing 35 years to life in prison.
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