Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Death Penalty for Killer Who Fired 12 Times; Judge Says Newberry's Criminal History Was a Factor in the Sentence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Death Penalty for Killer Who Fired 12 Times; Judge Says Newberry's Criminal History Was a Factor in the Sentence

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

Rodney Newberry was smirking as he walked into court Friday morning.

But his face was expressionless 30 minutes later after a Jacksonville judge sentenced him to death for the murder of 38-year-old Terrese Pernell Stevens in 2009.

Circuit Judge Adrian G. Soud told Newberry, 44, that his decision to murder Stevens and his previous criminal history had caused him to forfeit the right to live.

"Your open season of prowling the streets of this city is now closed," Soud said.

Newberry shot Stevens 12 times with an AK-47 while he and two other men were robbing him in the parking lot at Club Steppin' Out on Dec. 28, 2009, just north of the Springfield area of Jacksonville.

Soud said death was justified because of Newberry's criminal record. He had prior arrests for the attempted murder of two police officers and had several other felony convictions.

He was convicted in January and the jury recommended death by an 8-4 vote.

He was also sentenced to life in prison Friday for the robbery of Pernell.

Family members of Stevens said they were happy with the sentence but became overwhelmed and struggled to speak after the sentencing concluded.

"The bottom line is justice was served," said Lysa Telzer, a victims advocate with the Justice Coalition. "Judge Soud made it clear that Terrese's life mattered."

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda cited multiple aggravating factors in arguing that the death penalty was appropriate. They included the fact that Newberry had previously been convicted of other felonies and the crime was committed during an armed robbery for pecuniary gain.

Newberry was already serving a life sentence in prison after shooting two police officers in March 2010.

The two officers, Ronald Bilyew and William Shrum, were later awarded purple hearts by Sheriff John Rutherford.

Bilyew was shot in the hand and Shrum in the foot. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.