Opening statements begin in Sharpes murder trial

SHARPES, Fla.,None — A Brevard County man is facing the death penalty for killing his estranged wife and the 19-year-old she was having an affair with.

Patrick Wharen Sr.'s attorney admits that his client fired the shots that killed the pair in April 2008, but he told a jury Friday that the killing was in the heat of passion.

Wharen turned down a last-minute plea deal Friday morning. In an attempt to keep his children from having to testify, prosecutors offered to take the death penalty off the table and let the judge decide a punishment between 25 years and life in prison.

Wharen said no to the plea deal, and the trial got under way.

Wharen sobbed as his attorney told a jury he wasn't thinking clearly when he killed his estranged wife, Kelly, and her roommate, Jonathon Vuick.

His attorneys laid out the details leading up to the 2008 shooting in Sharpes.

Wharen's attorneys told jurors that Kelly had conjured up a nonexistent 19-year-old daughter named Missy, born before the Wharens' marriage, in order to explain Vuick moving into a second trailer the family owned across the street. Vuick was supposed to be the mystery daughter's fiance, and Kelly moved in with him.

"He's questioning not only the existence of this 'Missy,' but he's questioning the fidelity of his wife," defense attorney Mark Lanning said.

Weeks before the killing, Wharen's attorneys said, Vuick admitted to sleeping with Kelly.

His defense team said Wharen snapped. His son, P.J. Oakley, was shot trying to stop him.

"I think it was just a matter of a couple of seconds of me throwing him on the hood of the car, and the gun went off," Oakley said.

But prosecutors say the murder was premeditated. Prosecutors will play the 911 tape of Vuick as he was standing behind the door calling for help.

They said you could hear the gunshots that went through the door and killed him.