Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jurors chose life in prison for McGee in brutal slaying of West Palm Beach grandmother

WEST PALM BEACH- — Jurors this morning rejected a death sentence for Wes McGee, a 23-year-old man convicted of murder for killing a West Palm Beach grandmother and attacking her grandson.

After deliberating for a half-hour, jurors recommended that McGee received life in prison for his role in the savage 2006 attack, to the disappointment of the family of his victim, Jane Tackaberry.

One of Tackaberry's relatives quietly sobbed after the verdict was read. Her family declined to comment afterward except to say that "it has been a long process."

Outside the courtroom, relatives of McGee said they were relieved that he would not face the death penalty, portraying him as a fundamentally good person who had been grown up in horrifying conditions and made a bad choice when he let a woman he met at a gas station convince him to join in her the attack on Tackaberry's house.

"When people have a rough life you can't just shut the door on them," said Margarita Pierre, McGee's cousin. "I'm very relieved."

Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams, who argued for the death penalty in the courtroom, said he was pleased with the jury's verdict.

"I've always tried to tell (Tackaberry's) family this is the best alternative," he said, explaining that a life sentence spares the victim's family the torturous years-long process of appeals and hearings that follow any death sentence. "In my eyes the jury made the right decision."

The sentence will be ultimately decided by Circuit Judge Sandra McSorley, but the jury's recommendation of life in prison effectively means he will not face the death penalty.

During the penalty phase of the trial, jurors heard that McGee suffered several mental and emotional disorders as a result of a traumatic childhood plagued by drugs and abuse. Defense attorneys contended that abuse, at the hands of his mother and others, should be considered when weighing his role in the stabbing death of Tackaberry in 2006.

The savage attacks occurred after McGee met Rhonda Norman while trying to sell her drugs and was persuaded to help her attack the house of her ex-boyfriend. There, they found Tackaberry and her grandson.

(Source :

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