Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Man sentenced to life without parole for shooting girlfriend

A 23 year old Georgia man was sentenced to life without parole, Florida’s mandatory sentence for 1st degree murder, for the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend in Lakeland, FL because she wanted to break up with him. The jury declared him guilty after 2 hours of deliberation, and Circuit Judge J. Michael Hunter sentenced Swift to mandatory life without parole. Christina Skinner, 24, was shot to death in the ironically named Christina Park in South Lakeland 4 times with a .45 caliber handgun by her ex-boyfriend William Keith Swift.. Skinner was shot twice in the head and twice in the upper body then called 911.

"Oh, I'm calm," Swift said on the 911 recording. "It's not a big surprise to me. I didn't freak out in a fit of rage and do it. She decided that she wanted to leave me, and I ain't gonna have that."

At trial, Barbara Skinner, the victim’s mother, testified that after the breakup, she tried to mediate between the couple, stating "I just kept telling him that life goes on. … It doesn't mean you won't get back together in the future."

She called her daughter minutes before the shooting, and there seemed to be no problems. She also testified that she felt blessed to be both the 1st and last person to tell Christina she loved her. She described her daughter as a strong-willed woman who loved playing pranks, being a mother, and jokes. Christina looked forward to going to school and since she died, her mother said “A part of you is forever gone.”

Assistant State’s attorney Paul Wallace stated that Swift killed Skinner because “If I can’t have you, nobody can.” “He didn’t love her – he wanted to possess her, Wallace said.

Assistant Public Defender Deborah Goins stated that Swift, despite stating he was calm in the 911 recording, had tension in his voice and wanted to make sense of what he had done. She cited her client’s mental health problems and lack of criminal history.

The PSI described Swift’s friends as calling him polite when he worked at a Georgia jail and movie rental store. Swift dated Skinner after his wife left him, taking their daughter.

After the sentencing, the victim’s mother hugged the perpetrator’s family. Swift winked at his mother before being led away.

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