Death penalty recommended for Tampa man who killed his girlfriend and her 10-year-old son

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – A Tampa jury is recommending the death penalty for Tyrone Johnson after finding him guilty of killing his girlfriend and her 10-year-old son following an argument over what the family would watch on TV.

On Wednesday a 12-member jury unanimously recommended Johnson receive the death penalty. The jury’s decision came five days after they found Johnson guilty of second-degree murder for killing Stephanie Willis and both first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse for killing Stephanie’s son Ricky “Ryon” Willis for a murder in 2018.

Judge Christopher Sabella will weigh the evidence and decide whether to approve the jury’s recommended sentence in the coming weeks.

Detectives determined that Johnson and his girlfriend got into an argument over what the family would watch on TV, and during that confrontation, Johnson shot her multiple times.

As this happened Johnson’s 10-year-old son tried to hide from Johnson. Terrified, he crawled under his bed to keep from being found.

According to the state attorney’s office, evidence shows Johnson discovered Willis as he tried to hide and shot him several times while he was still under the bed. Johnson then moved the victims’ bodies in an attempt to stage the scene for his phone call to 911 and his claim that he was defending himself.

“The day the defendant chose to shoot and kill my oldest daughter, and hunt down, torture and brutally murder my only biological grandson, part of me died. Not only did he take away my family, he took away my future generations,” Robert Hewitt—Stephanie’s father and Ryon’s grandfather said. “I am thankful for the decision in this case. After three years, we have received justice for Stephanie and Ryon.”

To this day, Hewitt told 8 On Your Side he still can’t get out of his mind the horror of what happened to his daugther and grandson on that Sunday in October 2018.

“I could just imagine the fear that he went through from trying to protect her and then trying to get out of the situation himself and this guy just hunting him down,” he said.

Hewitt and his wife Amber sat through the entire trial that ended last Friday with the jury returning the guilty verdict.

“The worst part I think for our entire family was having to sit there, not show emotion, not be able to show how we felt when we had to look at the pictures,” Amber Hewitt said.

The Hewitts tells 8 On Your Side they agree with the jury’s capital punishment recommendation.

“I have no doubt this is the appropriate punishment for it,” Mr. Hewitt said.

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