BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A Titusville man was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder Wednesday, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
A 12-person jury spent about eight hours Wednesday deliberating the state's case against William Woodward, 50. The State Attorney's Office said Woodward shot and killed Gary Hembree and Roger Picior and wounded Bruce "Tim" Blake in a neighborhood dispute on Labor Day 2012.
Woodward had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, which meant he would have been eligible for the death penalty if he had been convicted. The jury instead chose convictions for two counts of second-degree murder, which could result in life in prison for Woodward.
After the sentence was read, defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger requested a pre-sentencing investigation. Once that is complete, Circuit Judge Kelly McKibben will schedule a sentencing hearing.
Jury members were handed the case about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday by Circuit Judge Kelly McKibben. She allowed the jury members to go home after 5 p.m. The jury members were not sequestered, the State Attorney's Office said.
About 3 p.m. Wednesday, the jury members requested speakers to help them clearly hear some of the video evidence in the case. Court officials said they would oblige.
Two hours later, the jury foreman told the court they had their verdict.
The State Attorney's Office rebutted the defense's self-defense claims, saying that Woodward was not under threat from Hembree, Picior or Blake at the time he dressed up in camouflage, crawled through the grass and began firing on the men in September 2012.
"There was no eminent threat" from the men who were shot, Assistant State Attorney Will Scheiner said Tuesday during closing arguments. "(Woodward) mounted the attack."
Woodward told authorities his neighbors had threatened to burn down his house, rape his daughter and attack him with a bat, the attorneys said. But none of that was happening when Woodward attacked, Scheiner said.
"The problem with self-defense in this case is it is legally deficient," he said.
The court previously rejected Woodward at a stand-your-ground defense hearing.
Woodward did not testify during the two-week trial. The jury heard his voice during recorded police interviews Woodward had with Titusville police detectives.