More than a dozen police officers were crammed into a Clearwater courtroom this morning for the resentencing hearing of Nicholas Lindsey, who was sentenced to life last year for murdering a St. Petersburg police officer.
Lindsey, 18, was originally sentenced March 23, 2012, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Officer David Crawford. Lindsey was 16 at the time of the 2011 slaying.
Three months after the sentence, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that giving a juvenile an automatic mandatory life sentence without any chance of parole was unconstitutional. The court mandated that other factors must be considered, including mental development and background.
A Pinellas-Pasco court granted a motion for a resentencing hearing in June.
Police Chief Chuck Harmon and a strong contingent of officers from several agencies were in attendance to show support for Crawford and his family. Space was so tight that there had been talk of moving the hearing to another courtroom, but instead officers were moved to some space behind prosecutors. Others were forced to watch on television monitors in a nearby conference room.
Lindsey shot Crawford five times on Feb. 21, 2011, after Crawford stopped his squad car in South St. Petersburg to question Lindsey about some car break-ins in the area.
Lindsey's attorneys have not denied that he killed Crawford, claiming he fired out of panic and should have been found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder.
This morning, they called Lindsey's great-uncle, Joe Lindsey, who testified about the dangerous neighborhood the boy lived in. Nick Lindsey had two cousins who were shot to death in the neighborhood, called Bethel Heights, Joe Lindsey testified.
"He's kind of shy," Joe Lindsey said of his nephew. "If he's in the room you'd never know he is in there."
Bonnie Buron testified that she started a correspondence with Nick Lindsey after his conviction and sentence. She testified that Lindsey was sorry for what he had done.
"He said he wishes he could turn back time," she said.
Forensic psycologist Richard Carpenter examined Lindsey and found he suffers from a mixed anxiety depressive disorder and a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. An IQ test showed Lindsey's is 77, Carpenter testified.
But Assistant State Attorney Jim Hellickson attacked Carpenter, noting that Lindsey, while in prison, scored 86 on an IQ test, which falls in the normal range.
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