Bartow, Florida - After two hours of deliberations, a jury of 12 has found William Brown, Jr. guilty of first degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon.
Bartow, Florida - The bailiff has announced the jury has a verdict in the killing of 25-year-old Ryan Skipper. William Brown, Jr. is accused of first degree murder and robbery in the case.
Bartow, Florida - The jury has begun deliberations in the murder trial of William Brown, Jr. He is accused of killing 25-year-old Ryan Skipper in March of 2007. Skipper's body was found on the side of a road in Wahneta. He bled to death from multiple stab wounds and a slit to the throat.
Joseph Bearden was convicted of second degree murder in February for his role in Skipper's murder. Bearden was sentenced to life in prison.
Bartow, Florida - Judge Hunter is giving jury instructions now.
William Brown, Jr.Brown is accused of first degree murder and robbery. A jury of 12 will decide whether to convict him of first degree murder.
In closing arguments, the prosecution asked the jury to find Brown guilty of first degree premeditated murder based on the injuries inflicted on 25-year-old Ryan Skipper. Felony first murder would also be an appropriate conviction according to the prosecution.
The defense, however, asked the jury to consider inconsistencies in the testimonies of two witnesses that point to Brown as Skipper's killer. The defense told the jury the investigation by detectives was shoddy, leading to a lack of abiding conviction of guilt and they should find Brown not guilty
In his rebuttal, prosector Cass Castillo told the jury the defense is asking them to speculate. He pointed out again that Brown knew where the stab wounds were and was hesitant to talk about the murder and sexual conduct, telling detectives he "blacked out" or "didn't know". Castillo said it's no different than someone who has been confronted by their own actions and is shutting down.
Bartow, Florida - Jurors are watching a 40 minute video tape of defendant William Brown, Jr. being interviewed by detectives after the murder of 25-year-old Ryan Skipper.
The prosecution played the tape again in hopes of keeping the interviews fresh in the minds of jurors before they deliberate a verdict.
In an effort to convince the jury to find Brown guilty of first degree murder, the state points to Brown as the person who brutally stabbed Skipper multiple times and slit his throat.
In the closing argument, the prosecution is asking the jury to remember testimony from two unconnected witnesses which point to Brown as the killer and other evidence including motive. The state says Brown's motive was robbery and premeditated murder.
Autopsy photos were presented again to the jury, showing the slit to Skipper's throat. "This is not necessary for robbery," said the prosecution who went on to say these kinds of wounds are from someone "determined to terminate the life of another human being."
The motive for Joseph Bearden, who was convicted of second degree murder in February, was robbery according to the state.
In the tape, Brown is talking about the night he and Bearden drove off with Ryan Skipper. He is also talking about the areas where Skipper was stabbed...in the stomach, back and throat.
Brown said he was in shock after the stabbing and did not call 911 because of his state of shock.
Brown previously pleaded guilty to arson and tampering with evidence for his role in cleaning and setting fire to Skipper's car.
Bartow, Florida - Closing arguments have begun in the murder trial of William Brown, Jr. He is accused of killing 25-year-old college student, Ryan Skipper. Joseph Bearden was convicted of the murder in February.
On March 14, 2007, Skipper's body was found dumped on the side of a road in Wahneta, a few miles away from his Winter Haven home.
He bled to death from 19 stab wounds and a cut to his throat. An investigation by the Polk County Sheriff's Office later determined Skipper was targeted because he was gay.
His killers left him to bleed to death as they drove off in his car, hoping to sell it for drugs. They never unloaded the car, which was later found abandoned in front of a Lake Pansy sign.
"Their attitude was, we did society a favor, we got rid of another fag. They not only didn't think they did anything wrong, they thought they were doing society a favor. That's tragic," said Phyllis Hunt, senior Pastor at Tampa's Metropolitan Community Church told 10 Connects in October.
She didn't know Skipper, but was angered by the brutality of his killing. She has stood by his family ever since, advocating for change in laws regarding hate crimes.
Joseph Bearden was convicted of second degree murder in February for the killing and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The prosecution had been seeking first degree murder and the death penalty.
It wasn't the conviction Skipper's family had hoped for, but they accepted the life sentence.
Although it was stated in court during Bearden's sentencing that it was believed Skipper was killed because he was gay, Bearden and Brown were not prosecuted for a hate crime.
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BARTOW - A jury found William "Bill-Bill" Brown Jr. guilty this afternoon of first-degree murder and robbery.
Prosecutors accused Brown of stabbing Ryan Keith Skipper to death in March 2007.
Skipper's slaying has been described as a hate crime.
Prosecutors have argued Brown and his co-defendant, Joseph "Smiley" Bearden, wanted to rob Skipper of his new car and thought he was an easy target because of his sexuality.
Skipper was a gay student at Traviss Career Center in Lakeland.
The verdict was announced at 2:56 p.m. Jurors had been deliberating since 12:34 p.m. Brown will be sentencing to life in prison Dec. 1.
During this morning's closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo rejected Brown's statement to detectives that he "blacked out" during the 2007 stabbing attack.
"That's a cop out," Castillo said.
Castillo played the secretly recorded video of Brown talking to detectives. He described the more than 40 minutes of black-and-white footage as the "essence" of the case against Brown.
On the video, Brown denied talking to Bearden about robbing Skipper.
However, Brown admitted to being in Skipper's car at the time of the attack along with Bearden. Skipper was driving the car.
Brown repeatedly insisted that he "blacked out," and didn't know how Skipper got stabbed and cut 19 times.
During closing arguments, Brown's lawyer, Deborah Wells, told jurors that detectives were leading her client during the interview and suggesting how to fill in blanks.