BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a 49-year-old Titusville man accused of killing two of his neighbors and severely injuring a third in a Labor Day 2012 shooting.
Jurors found William Woodward guilty of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Woodward said he was defending his family following weeks of threats when he shot his neighbors Sept. 3, 2012.
But prosecutors said the victims were drunk and unarmed, and that Woodward had alternatives to deadly force.
“The law requires people to respond reasonably to emotionally charged situations,” said prosecutor William Scheiner. “In this position, this case, we feel Mr. Woodward did not and obviously the jury agreed.”
Investigators said Woodward fired 31 shots after an ongoing dispute with his neighbors. He claimed he was defending his family after weeks of threats.
“Billy is a good person. He thought he was protecting his family,” said Woodward’s aunt, Karen Kilgallen.
Roger Picior and Gary Lee Hembree were killed and Timothy Blake was left with severe injuries.
A friend of Hembree’s family said there are no winners in this case.
“We can’t bring two people back. We can’t restore anybody’s health. We feel for the families on both sides (about) what happened because it’s just horrible,” said Dena Chemerys.
Jurors began deliberating late Tuesday afternoon, but they were sent home 30 minutes later.
Jurors reached a verdict around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Woodward blew a kiss and gave a salute to someone in the courtroom before he was escorted to jail.
The death penalty is no longer an option for Woodward because he was not convicted of first-degree murder.
His attorney said he will file an appeal.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Woodward faces up to life in prison without parole.
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