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Teen Guilty In Shooting Of Tourist Convicted Of Attempted Murder Of Woman Who Saw Friend Killed

Bill Kaczor Associated Press

A jury deliberated less than 30 minutes Friday before convicting an 18-year-old man of trying to kill a British tourist who saw her boyfriend shot to death during a robbery attempt at a highway rest stop.

Aundra Akins, found guilty of attempted murder, was only 14 when Margaret Jagger and Gary Colley were shot in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 1993. He already is serving a 27-year prison term after pleading guilty in 1995 for murdering Colley, 34.

The state is expected to ask for a 40-year sentence for shooting Jagger although he could get life. No sentencing date was immediately set.

“I think it’s the right verdict,” Jagger said. “I don’t think it’s a happy occasion. I think it’s very sad that it’s just a waste of Aundra’s life.”

The couple was attacked as they napped in their rental car at a rest stop about 35 miles east of Tallahassee in the Florida Panhandle.

The shooting, which marred the Florida’s $30-billion-a-year tourism industry, prompted the state to post armed guards at all interstate rest stops. Colley was among 10 foreign visitors killed in the state during a 13-month period.

Defense lawyer Dan Dearing said he would appeal. He claimed the trial constituted double jeopardy and that prosecutors violated his client’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by reading the jury a confession Akins had made in 1995.

Akins, who did not testify, gave the statement in connection with a plea bargain. He received concurrent 27-year sentences after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in exchange for testifying against another defendant.

During closing arguments, Dearing urged the jury to consider his client’s age and contended the shooting was not premeditated, as required for a first-degree conviction.

“If Mr. Akins wanted to kill that lady he could have done so,” Dearing said, pointing out his gun held more than the three bullets he fired. “It wasn’t premeditated but an immediate reaction. It was a panicked response.”

Assistant State Attorney Michael Schneider said the shooting “was senseless violence, but it was not a random act.”

Two other teenagers are serving prison sentences in the attack.

Akins fired through the passenger’s window, the side where Jagger was seated, while John “Billy Joe” Crumitie, now 19, fired from the other side.

Jagger, 39, testified three times against Crumitie. After two mistrials, when juries failed to reach a verdict, a Pensacola jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. Crumitie is serving a life sentence with a 25-year minimum.

A third defendant, Deron Spear, 21, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery and accessory after the fact.

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