Polk County man gets 60 years in prison for beating friend to death with bat in 2018 when they were teens

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The man who prosecutors said brutally beat his friend to death with a baseball bat when they were both teenagers in Polk County was sentenced to 60 years behind bars on Friday, more than three years after he was charged with murder.

Dillen Murray was 16 years old when he was arrested for murdering his friend, 15-year-old Giovanni Diaz. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at the the time that the killing was premeditated and motivated by jealousy over a girl Murray said he loved.

Murray was arrested the same day the incident happened, on March 19, 2018. According to court documents, he gave recorded statements to Polk County detectives saying he and the victim went into the woods to smoke weed and that he brought a baseball bat with him.

When detectives asked Murray how he felt about his actions, documents show the then-teenager said, “I feel bad. I feel like s***. I feel like a monster. I feel like I don’t deserve to live.”

Murray pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Dec. 19, 2019. A sentencing hearing was held earlier this year that featured testimony from experts and friends and family members of Diaz, as well as Murray’s mother.

Giovanni Diaz

Court documents show the evidence presented at the sentencing hearing revealed Murray reported having auditory hallucinations when he was 10. He also said he killed animals in the past while coping with anxiety and anger issues, the documents said.

The court announced its decision Friday, sentencing Murray – who is now 20 – to 60 years in Florida State Prison followed by 20 years of probation. According to the order, an individualized judicial review of the sentence will be allowed after 25 years.

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