ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Timothy Fletcher, 28, choked back tears as Judge Wendy Berger described his crimes in great detail. Then, she read his sentence. "The court adjudicates you guilty of the offense and sentences you, Timothy Wayne Fletcher, to death," she said.
Back in 2009, Fletcher and his cell mate, Doni Brown, escaped from the Putnam County Jail. They stole a truck and drove to the home of Helen Googe. 66-year-old Googe was Fletcher's step-grandmother. He thought she kept money in a safe at her home. She didn't.
Fletcher and Brown beat the woman, and ultimately strangled her, as she fought, and clawed her attackers. The convicts then stole her car and the $37 she had in her purse.
Brown also learned his fate Friday. He pleaded no contest to the charges and will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility for parole.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza was satisfied with Fletcher's sentence. He said, "When the death sentence is appropriate we seek it, and we're glad to see it happen today."
After the murder, Fletcher and Brown went to Georgia, then Kentucky, then back to Putnam County where they were arrested. Their jail break led to major security upgrades inside the Putnam County Jail. Sheriff Jeff Hardy said, "That was my fourth month in office, if you remember. And after that we did a 1000 page internal report with the jail, and we found all kinds of discrepancies. And of course, we made changes."
Googe's family sat quietly in the courtroom as Fletcher's fate was sealed. A man they once considered family is now headed to death row. And another painful chapter of their life can close.
Judge Berger ended the hearing with one sentence, "May God have mercy on your soul."