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
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.