Double killer gets life in prison for murders on work release - WFLA News Channel 8

Double killer gets life in prison for murders on work release

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PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -

A Pinellas judge immediately sentenced career criminal Michael Scott Norris to life in prison this morning after he pleaded guilty to a St. Petersburg double murder.

Norris was an inmate on work release last October when he shot and killed Bruce Johnson and Arthur Regula inside a home on 4th Ave. they were remodeling. Police believe it was a random crime of opportunity.

Norris then set fire to the house to cover up the murders.

Norris' escape from the Salvation Army's Residential Re-entry Center in Largo before the murders triggered community criticism of that facility's security and a legislative outcry for reform by the Department of Corrections.

He still faces unrelated criminal charges in Hillsborough and Sarasota.

Pinellas Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett says Norris—who has a long history of serious criminal offenses---will spend the rest of his life in prison without any chance of parole.

Bartlett says Norris' lawyer approached the state attorney's office about three weeks ago saying that Norris just wanted to get his case over with as long as prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.

Bartlett says there were numerous aggravating factors that could have supported a death sentence if a jury had convicted Norris, but the certainty of consecutive life sentences made the plea deal  viable.

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