Prime Suspect in Five Student Slayings Gets Life Sentence for Robbery

From Associated Press

The prime suspect in the stabbing deaths of five Gainesville college students was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for robbing a supermarket.

Danny Harold Rolling's life term as a habitual violent offender carried no minimum mandatory sentence, Assistant State Atty. Rock E. Hooker said.

"It is supposed to be true life. He is not supposed to get out until he is dead," Hooker said.

The sentence came a year after Rolling pleaded guilty to the Sept. 7, 1990, armed robbery of an Ocala supermarket, days after the late August killings in Gainesville.

"God bless the people of Florida, and the Lord help me," the 37-year-old Shreveport, La., drifter said just before Judge Thomas Sawaya sentenced him.

Hooker presented information on prior robbery convictions in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to support his claim that Rolling was a career criminal.

No one has been charged with the slayings of the college students, although prosecutors have named Rolling as the prime suspect. They plan to present information on Rolling and secondary suspect Edward Lewis Humphrey to a grand jury in November.

Humphrey was released from prison Monday after serving a sentence for beating his grandmother a few days after the bodies of four women and a man were found in their off-campus Gainesville apartments.

Last week, a judge in Tampa delayed until Sept. 23 Rolling's trial on charges that he burglarized three homes in September, 1990, days after the bodies were found.

He also was convicted last month of robbing a Tampa grocery store. He faces a life term at his sentencing Oct. 11. Police said he was driving a car stolen in Gainesville.

Rolling also faces charges for the Aug. 27, 1990, robbery of a First Union Bank in Gainesville, which occurred hours after the decapitated body of Christa Hoyt was found in her apartment just blocks away.

Some of the other four victims also were mutilated when they were stabbed to death, police said.

Police in Shreveport have named Rolling a suspect in a 1989 triple slaying there.

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