JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida statutes are clear. Sexual battery on a child carries one of the highest penalties under the law. But Action News found out not all inmates are serving the maximum sentence.
According to the Department of Corrections, 3,052 inmates are serving time with a primary offense of capital sexual battery, but only 1,620 were sentenced to life in prison.
“Even though someone's charged with the same crime and the statutory charge is the same, the story and the facts behind that charge are completely different,” said Whitney Lonker, a defense attorney who has represented defendants in these types of cases.
William Dillow and his girlfriend Rhonda Wilkerson both face the charge after being accused of abusing two young girls. Dillow is charged in St. Johns County, while Wilkerson is charged in Flagler County.
While the offense carries a capital title, it is no longer a death penalty crime alone. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that it would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.