Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man Gets Life Again for Killing Woman, 23

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man Gets Life Again for Killing Woman, 23

Article excerpt

Byline: Tessa Duvall

Kimothy Simmons was given a life sentence in 2008 for murdering a 23-year-old nursing student, and on Thursday, Circuit Judge Linda McCallum agreed that sentence was the right one.

Her pronouncement took less than a minute.

"Judge [Michael] Weatherby deemed at that time that a sentence of life for Mr. Simmons was appropriate," McCallum said, "and I have to say that I agree with that."

Simmons was 17 when he killed Sarah Whitlock, stabbing her 31 times in her Riverside apartment. He had met her at The Jacksonville Landing and taken interest in her romantically. It only took a jury 20 minutes to find Simmons guilty, and he received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

While McCallum upheld Simmons' life sentence, he will receive another judicial review after he has served 25 years behind bars. This measure brings his sentence into compliance with a Florida law that says juvenile murderers must receive a review at that time.

Gary Whitlock, Sarah Whitlock's father, said the sentence remained as wise and just as it was nine years ago. And when the time comes, the Whitlocks will again return to court for Simmons' judicial review in hopes he remains incarcerated.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said he's happy McCallum wasn't lenient.

"That's what this man deserves," de la Rionda said. "It was a brutal, brutal murder."

He said it is "ridiculous" the family will have to return to court once more. God willing, he said, he'll be there with them.

In approaching juvenile life without parole resentencings, like for Simmons, de la Rionda said he considers how heinous and egregious the case was. For this one, he can still picture the scene of the murder.

"This person never deserves to get out again," he said. "That's the way it is, that's the way it should be."

Simmons' public defender, Kate Bedell, declined to comment on the case.

On Aug. 4 McCallum listened to hours of testimony about Simmons' young brain, his tumultuous upbringing, the seriousness of his crime and the promising young life Whitlock led. …

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