JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The man convicted of murdering two people within five hours has been sentenced to death according to the State Attorney's Office.
Judge Brad Stetson ordered Billy Jim Sheppard, Jr., to death row on Friday. The 25-year-old was convicted of two counts of first degree murder by a jury in January of 2012.
On July 20, 2008, Sheppard shot to death 39-year-old Patrick Stafford in an attempted armed robbery. About three hours later, Sheppard stole a car from a Jacksonville grocery store. He then shot and killed 16-year-old Monquell Wimberly, who was riding his bicycle in a Jacksonville neighborhood.
"These two senseless murders could have been avoided," said Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel. In 2001, when Sheppard was 14-years-old, he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery for shooting into a car occupied by teenagers. One 15-year-old boy was shot in the leg as a result of Sheppard's violent conduct.
"Had the defendant received the minimum mandatory sentence as required by law, he would have still been incarcerated in July of 2008," said Caliel. "Perhaps two innocent lives could have been saved. This is exactly the reason why Ms. Corey and her administration treat gun violence so seriously, even with juvenile offenders. It prevents future harm to innocent citizens. It saves lives."
By law, Sheppard's death sentence will automatically be reviewed.
First Coast News