William Brown Jr. has declined to accept a deal that would have spared his life in exchange for pleading guilty to the 2007 murder of Ryan Keith Skipper, a gay man.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the deal collapsed on Monday after Brown, 22, changed his mind about pleading guilty in exchange for life in prison.

“We were hopeful,” said Lynn Mulder, Skipper's father. “We'd like to get this part of it over so the healing can begin.”

In February, a Polk County, Florida jury found co-defendant Joseph Bearden, 23, guilty of the second-degree murder of 25-year-old Skipper and sentenced him to life in prison.

Skipper's bloody, stabbed to death body was found on the side of a dirt road that leads to the small town of Wahneta in the early hours of March 14, 2007.

During Bearden's trial witnesses testified that the men targeted Skipper because he was gay.

Police originally told the media that Skipper met Bearden, who was hitchhiking, while driving looking to pick up someone. The pair returned to Skipper's home where they smoked marijuana, and decided to use his notebook computer to commit check fraud. The two drove to a home owned by Brown's uncle where they met up with Brown.

Witnesses at the home said the three men left, but only Bearden and Brown returned 15 minutes later, their clothing stained with blood.

Skipper's car was found three days later at a nearby dock. The car was soiled with blood and, investigators said, Bearden and Brown had unsuccessfully tried to set the month-old, powder blue Chevrolet Aveo on fire. Detectives say they recovered fingerprints of both suspects from the car.

Brown's trial is now scheduled to begin on October 12.