A judge sentenced Trevor Dooley to eight years in prison Thursday for the shooting death of another man during a confrontation in a Valrico park in 2010.
Dooley, 72, was convicted of manslaughter with a weapon last year. His conviction could have carried a sentence of up to 30 years, and guidelines called for a sentence of more than 10 years, but Judge Ashley Moody used factors including his health, lack of criminal history and remorse to hand down a milder sentence. Dooley was also sentenced to 10 years probation.
Dooley shot and killed Air Force veteran David James in September 2010 during a confrontation over a skateboarder on a basketball court. The case gained attention because of Florida's "stand your ground" law and Dooley's claim that he was in fear for his life, and shot James because the larger, younger man was choking him during a struggle.
In emotional testimony in court on Thursday, James' widow told Dooley that "I hope you spend the rest of your life miserable in jail where you belong."
"I've been told I should forgive you," Kanina James said. "And I want you to know I will never forgive you."
James' mother read a letter from her granddaughter Danielle, who witnessed her father's death.
"That was the worst day of my life because I had to watch my dad die that day," the letter said.
She continued reading the child's words, saying, "I told myself I will hate the person's guts and I don't care who it is. Know then, I hate your guts Trevor Dooley."
Dooley's own family members pleaded for mercy, saying the 72-year-old was gentle and loving.
Dooley's wife explained why her husband got a concealed carry permit after being robbed at gunpoint years ago, and his daughter told stories of her father helping stranded motorists and rescuing a kitten.
In his own letter read by his attorney, Dooley said, "If I could take this day back, I would do anything. It should have been me instead."
After the sentence, Kanina James said she didn't believe Dooley's words.
"I don't buy any of it," she said. "I've seen him in the courtroom laughing and joking, he had so many opportunities to even mouth the words to us ‘I'm sorry.' He never did."
James' attorney said they will file an appeal and are also considering a motion to allow Dooley out on bail during the appeal process.
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