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Resentencing trial for convicted cop-killer Jason Wheeler to begin Monday

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — The resentencing trial for a lake county man convicted in the 2005 murder of a Lake County deputy is set to begin Monday.

Jason Wheeler, 47, of Paisley is fighting to have his death sentence overturned.

Wheeler has been on death row since being convicted of killing Lake County deputy Wayne Koester in 2005.

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On Feb. 9, 2005, Koester and two other deputies responded to a home that Wheeler shared with his girlfriend near the Ocala National Forest for a domestic violence call.

Wheeler, who had hidden in a nearby woods and was armed with a shotgun, ambushed the deputies, injuring all three.

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Deputies Bill Crotty and Tom McKane would later recover from their injuries. Koester died at the hospital.

After a massive manhunt, Wheeler was involved in a second shootout with deputies, in which he was paralyzed.

Wheeler was convicted in 2006 of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, two counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, and was sentenced to death.

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In 2013, Wheeler appealed his conviction.

In his appeal, Wheeler argued there were problems with the trial — primarily, that his defense attorney had failed to offer key evidence.

In 2013, the Florida Supreme Court upheld Wheeler’s 2005 conviction and death sentence for the murder of Koester.

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In 2017, Wheeler’s death sentence was overturned after the courts determined that non-unanimous jury recommendations of death violate the Florida state constitution.

Jury selection is set to begin Monday at 8:30 a.m. in Lake County.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.

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