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Nassau County man accused of killing his family will have third mental health evaluation

Investigators say William Broyles admitted to killing his family. If he's deemed competent to stand trial, he could get the death penalty.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Lawyers for the Nassau County man who investigators say admitted to killing his wife and two children on Dec. 1, 2021, have claimed he is unfit to stand trial and requested a doctor's evaluation -- for a third time

During a case management hearing in March, the attorney for William Broyles, 57, told the court that a doctor had declared Broyles incompetent.

Broyles has already been evaluated by two doctors, and a third doctor will judge his competency in three weeks, his attorney said during a Zoom hearing Wednesday morning. The doctor's evaluation was originally supposed to be delivered during that hearing, but the doctor had COVID-19, the attorney said.

The deadline has now been moved to July 14.

If Broyles is deemed fit to stand trial, he could face the death penalty.

In January 2022, the state of Florida, through Assistant State Attorney Melissa W. Nelson, released a notice of intent to seek the death penalty on all three murder counts.

To seek the death penalty, the state must determine "aggravating circumstances," that make the crime so severe it warrants a death penalty case. The notice says that the crimes were committed in a "cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense or legal justification," and that Broyles' alleged victims were particularly vulnerable to him due to their trust in him as a family member.

If Broyles goes to trial and is found guilty, as in any death penalty case in Florida, all 12 jurors must agree on recommending the death penalty. Even if he is found guilty, if all 12 jurors do not agree, he would instead face life in prison without parole.

The case against Broyles 

Though deputies say Broyles admitting to killing his family, he was the one who called 911 when they were shot. 

Police say they found Broyles' wife, Candice Lynn Broyles, his daughter, Cara Lynn Broyles, and his son, Aaron Christopher Broyles, when they arrived to the family's home in the 55000 block of Deer Run Road.

When police arrived at the home, Broyles was laying down in the driveway, Nassau County sheriff's deputies said. When he was arrested, deputies said that Broyles confessed to murdering all three of his family members, saying he shot them multiple times to "make sure they did not suffer."

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said Broyles shot his wife, Candice Lynn Broyles, 57, in the living room area. According to Leeper, he then moved to his daughter's room, Cara Lynn Broyles, 27, where he shot her as she was first waking up.

Leeper described Cara Lynn Broyles as possibly having high functioning autism.

William Broyles then proceeded to bust through the bedroom door of his son's room and shoot him, Leeper said. William Broyles then left the room to get another gun and came back and shot his son again, Leeper said.

Broyles was known by neighbors as a man who "kept to himself." He was the longtime  Those closed to him called him Bill, and he was a prominent member of the Hodges Boulevard Presbyterian Church community, serving as Director of Music Ministries for 23 years. Even Sheriff Leeper said that this was an unexpected crime. 

When Broyles was arrested, Hodges Boulevard Presbyterian Church posted:

"It is with tremendous sadness that I report to you that this Wednesday morning Bill Broyles, our Director of Music, confessed to shooting his wife and two of his children. Bill has been part of our church staff for 23 years, and this was completely out of character. We mourn this devastating loss to the church, Bill’s remaining family, and the larger community. We ask that you would hold the members of the Broyles family, our church family, and Bill himself in your prayers regarding this tragedy."

Broyles will have his next appearance on July 14 and his attorneys are expected to deliver an opinion on his ability to stand trial. 

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