Florida man gets life sentence for fatal drug shooting

Jamaal Smith was arrested Thursday night in North Miami. He was wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of three people in Lakeland.

BARTOW, Fla. – A Florida man has avoided the death penalty for his role in the shooting deaths of three people in 2016.

Jamaal John Smith, 29, was sentenced to mandatory life in prison Tuesday, The Ledger reported. He was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the deaths of David Washington, 24; Stacy Branch, 31; and Angelica Castro, 23.

Authorities said Smith, Johnathan Alcegaire and another man broke into a Lakeland home in January 2016 and carried out the shooting. Washington had been buying drugs off of the men in Miami, prosecutors said. Investigators said the execution-style slayings were orchestrated by Alcegaire's brother, Andrew Joseph.

Alcegaire was sentenced to death by a jury last March. Joseph was scheduled to stand trial in May, the newspaper reported.

In court on Tuesday, Smith apologized to the families of the victims.

“It’s a very devastating thing that took place. I’m not proud of it, I don’t agree with it and I believe I deserve what I got,” Smith said.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Smith but the jury could not come to a unanimous decision, the newspaper reported.