Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Man pleads guilty in 17-year-old’s murder; sentenced to life in prison

PHILLIP BANTZ, pbantz@breezenewspapers.com

Monday, June 25, 2007

Is there sufficient justice in locking a double murderer away for the rest of his life, or is death a more fitting punishment?

The issue split Annamarie Randazzo’s parents in court Monday, when their daughter’s killer, Jeremy Chapman, signed a deal with the State Attorney’s Office and avoided the death penalty.

Chapman pleaded guilty to an array of charges in the bludgeoning deaths of Randazzo, 17, and John Hardin, 66. He will serve two consecutive life sentences in state prison without possibility of parole.

“It is the intent of this court that you never see the light of day, except through barbed wire and iron bars,” said Lee County Circuit Judge Thomas Reese. “You will never walk free among the decent people in the state of Florida again.”

Tears streamed from behind John Randazzo’s dark sunglasses during the hearing. Annamarie’s father and attorneys in the case had reportedly come to an agreement on Chapman’s plea deal.

John Randazzo declined comment as he rushed out of the courtroom after the sentencing.

Randazzo’s mother, Mercedita Walter, told Chapman during the hearing that he should have been sentenced to death.

“He can’t bring back my daughter,” she said. “I still think he needs the death penalty rather than life in prison.”

Chapman, 25, stared blankly at Walter as she spoke. He kidnapped, raped, killed and burned Randazzo on July 22, 2005. He beat his roommate, Hardin, to death with a crowbar during a robbery seven days later. Hardin did not have a family member or relative in court Monday.

Randazzo’s stepfather, Jeff Walter, said he was “shocked” that State Attorney Stephen Russell never told him or Mercedita Walter about Chapman’s plea deal. They first learned Randazzo’s killer would avoid the death penalty after speaking with a reporter.

“We found out about this deal this morning. This is another layer of disappointment in this situation, that the State Attorney’s Office did not call us directly,” said Jeff Walter. “We’re very disappointed. ... We thought there would be no deals.”

Chapman said the deal was in “his best interest,” but when asked to explain why, he said it was “kind of hard to explain” and requested to speak with one of his attorneys.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” said Chapman, his voice cracking. “And I have remorse.”

Later, Chapman wept as he apologized to Randazzo’s family, saying he did not expect forgiveness.

“I’d like to say that I’m so sincere when I say, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry,” he said. “I will never forgive myself for this and I don’t expect them to forgive me.”

As part of his agreement with the state, Chapman will testify against his alleged accomplice in the Randazzo slaying. Joshua P. Henninger was 16 when he lured Randazzo to his home, where she was beaten, bound with tape and driven to a remote location in Lehigh Acres, authorities said.

Henninger and Chapman then reportedly beat Randazzo to death and shoved her body into an abandoned refrigerator, which they set ablaze. The duo also burned Randazzo’s Ford Mustang, according to reports.

Henninger, now 18, awaits a September trial while being held in the Lee County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, arson and sexual assault with a weapon. He is exempt from the death penalty due to his age at the time of the crime.

© 2007 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.


Anonymous said...

truly our system failed the Randazzo family in allowing this monster to escape the death penalty but at least he is never going to be free to do it again.

Chrissy said...

I live in Canada and our justice system isn't the greatest here either. It seems like the guilty can never get enough time for the crime to heal your broken heart.
I read a book called, Murder by Family by an author by the name of Kent Whitaker. I bring this up because this is based on a true story, he has forgiven the son who killed his wife and other son.
I don't think I could have done that, but throughout the book, you really do see what an amazing person Kent really is. This book is about forgiveness and hopefully anyone going through a horrible tragedy can find some comfort in this spectacular book.

Brandy said...

I miss you so much Anna! Jeremy should have got the death penalty, as well as Josh; who cares that he was 16 and not an adult. None of us were adults, but it didn't stop what happened to you. I'll be thinking of you on Friday, as I present my presintation on the affects of drug use. You are my inspiration, and I'll never forget our memories!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who murders two people out of cold blood should be put down, period!

Anonymous said...

Josh is my pen pal

Anonymous said...

Nina is my name . I knew Jeremy since he was a kid. I knew his mother very well. I dated him for 2 years through high school and I'm just now hearing about this . OMG !!!! i can't beleive this . I have been so trying to get in touch with jeeremys mom. I knew everything about him back then we were always together but he was doing things i didnt like so we parted ways . Around 2000 he came back into my life as freinds so a few mos or so then i had realised that he was still like lost and mad at the world so i just didnt comtact him anymore. I'm so sorry for this young girls family. and jeremy deserves to be in jail and reminded of his actions. He had a lot of issues in his life that he created himself and wouldn't allow anyone to help him and this is how his life ends up. I have a college degree and I have took my life and made it into something . but back then I didnt care too much about my future and as i look back on it now and hearing this im just wow stunned. i so wish i could contact jeremys mom sheila . If anyone knows a way to contact her please please email me at : mysticalchrissy123@gmail.com . I have searched for her on facebook but no luck. this is horrible . Im not sure if i want to contact jeremy but he used to trust me used too is the key word. not so sure if its a goood idea. but i do want to contact his mom shelia if i can.

Anonymous said...

My sister dated this guy and if she has not gone to jail. They would have been after my sister.

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