Convicted of stomping man, 91, to death
Lisa J. Huriash | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
5:10 PM EDT, April 27, 2009
FORT LAUDERDALE - Hours before a jury would have starting debating whether convicted killer Gabby Tennis should live or die, a deal was struck today that will send him to prison for the rest of his life.
After a retrial, Tennis, 29, was convicted last week of the June 2003 stomping death of Albert Vessella, 91, a disabled Navy veteran. Tennis went to Vessella's Hollywood home to steal money for a traditional Gypsy dowry so he could marry his 16-year-old girlfriend, Sophia Adams.
She testified against him. He was convicted in 2005 and sent to Death Row, but the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction because Tennis was not given a hearing when he asked to represent himself.
In the retrial, Tennis represented himself until midway through the state's case, when he decided to let standby attorneys handle his defense.
"The family of the victim never has to be subjected to this again," prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said following today's court session.
After the jurors were dismissed, two of them said Tennis made the right choice.
"I was giving the state what they wanted," a death recommendation, said Alex Garcia, of Fort Lauderdale.
So was Rudy Lacosse, of Miramar.
"He didn't have no sympathy for anybody," Lacosse said of Tennis. "He didn't care about nobody's life but his.