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Florida Slaying Suspect Found Guilty in Beating

From Associated Press

A suspect in the slayings of five college students in Gainesville was convicted Wednesday of beating his grandmother.

Edward Lewis Humphrey, 19, had tears in his eyes upon hearing the conviction on a reduced charge of battery on a person over age 65.

Sentencing was set for Nov. 8. Under state sentencing guidelines, Humphrey could receive probation or up to 22 months in prison.

It took six Brevard County jurors about an hour to convict him of beating his 79-year-old grandmother, Elna Hlavaty, on Aug. 30.

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Humphrey could have been convicted of the more serious charge of aggravated battery on a person over 65. Conviction on that charge carries a penalty of at least three years in prison without parole.

“Truth is, Ed Humphrey beat his grandmother. I had no qualms with the jury. It is difficult when they have a victim testifying for the defense,” state attorney Norm Wolfinger said.

Humphrey has been held on $1-million bond. No testimony was given about his status as a suspect in the serial slayings in August of five students in Gainesville.

Hlavaty, who testified for the defense, was upset by the verdict.

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“I am heartbroken that I have a crippled grandson that is being railroaded in hell until they find the Gainesville murderer,” she said. Humphrey had been injured in a car accident.

After the alleged beating, Hlavaty called police and said her grandson had hit her. She later said she did not want to press charges.

Prosecutors tried to show that Hlavaty was harmed intentionally and suffered bodily harm, permanent injury or permanent disfigurement.

The alleged attack on Humphrey’s grandmother occurred after the discovery earlier that week of the bodies of four female students and one male student in off-campus apartments. No one has been charged in those killings.

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