Cocoa man who had woman buried alive sentenced to death

Man already serving life sentence

VIERA, Fla. – Brevard Circuit Judge Jeffrey Mahl sentenced convicted murderer Vahtiece Kirkman to death Friday afternoon for killing a 22-year-old Bahamian woman in 2006.

News 6 partner Florida Today reports that the jury, in accordance with new death penalty guidelines, voted 10-2 in favor of death. They also identified at least five aggravating factors why Kirkman should die, including the particular heinous, atrocious and cruel nature of the murder.

Kirkman, who was already serving a life sentence after he was convicted of fatally shooting Willie Parker, 29, of Cocoa, in 2006 while robbing Parker of his money and drugs, will now be transferred to Florida's death row. He had previously served time for burglary and battery and was also arrested on federal drug charges before being charged with murder.

Prosecutors say Kirkman had Darice Knowles buried alive in Cocoa, because she knew about Parker's murder and was dating a Cocoa police officer.

The main witness against Kirkman was Chris Pratt, an ex-boyfriend of Knowles, who testified that Kirkman forced him to bind Knowles before digging a grave, mixing concrete and then throwing the woman into her own grave before being covered with concrete and dirt.

"One can imagine what Miss Knowles was thinking and what terror she experienced," Mahl said before issuing sentence. "Common sense dictates she experienced great amounts of fear."

Pratt received 10 years for his part in Knowles' murder as well as 10 years for his part in Parker's murder.