Youth Gets Life Term in Tourist Slaying

From Reuters

A Florida judge Friday sentenced an 18-year-old man to life in prison for the murder of a British tourist in 1993, a killing that sparked international outrage and hurt Florida’s tourist industry.

John (Billy Joe) Crumitie will serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole for the September, 1993, murder of Gary Colley, who was killed in a botched robbery attempt at a highway rest stop near this rural north Florida community.

Crumitie, dressed in a blue prison uniform, stood stone-faced as Circuit Judge Nikki Clark handed down the sentence. Crumitie’s mother, who had earlier said her son was a good boy, also showed no emotion.

The murder of Colley, 34, of Yorkshire, England, was the ninth in a series of killings that hurt a $30-billion-a-year industry and prompted Florida’s governor to station armed security guards at roadside rest stops across the state.


Crumitie, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, also received a 15-year sentence for the attempted second-degree murder of Margaret Jagger, Colley’s longtime companion who was wounded in the attack.

He was also given 15 years each on two counts of armed robbery and 15 years for shooting into a vehicle, all to run concurrently with his life sentence.

Jagger told the court Friday that she and Colley had been together for more than 14 years and had planned to spend a lifetime traveling around the world.

They had been vacationing in the United States and were traveling from New Orleans to St. Petersburg, Fla., when they stopped at a highway rest area to nap.

Jagger tearfully recalled how Crumitie and accomplice Aundra Akins tapped on the window of their Chevrolet rental car, where they were sleeping. The youths demanded money and shot Colley and Jagger as they tried to speed away.

Colley, who Jagger referred to as her best friend, bled to death in her arms as they waited for help.

“I survived, I was lucky, or was I?,” Jagger said. “Every time I look in the mirror, I see my gunshot wound and I think back to that horrific fatal night.”


Crumitie was convicted Sept. 16 in his third trial. The first two ended with hung juries. At the beginning of the trial, he rejected a plea-bargain agreement under which he would have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Three others involved with Crumitie in the attack all pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

DeRon Spear, 18, who testified against Crumitie in all three trials, was sentenced Friday to eight years on charges of attempted robbery and as an accessory after the fact. This followed a plea agreement reached last summer.

In February, Akins, 16, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and could be given a maximum of 40 years in prison. He will be sentenced later this month. Spear’s half brother, Cedrick Green, 15, pleaded guilty to lesser charges, was treated as a juvenile and did not face a prison term.