Skinhead Convicted of Murder
Oct. 27, 2000
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ A 19-year-old man was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder, attempted murder and hate crimes for firing a single bullet through the home of a biracial couple, killing a 6-year-old girl and wounding her twin and half-sisters.
Jessy Joe Roten could be sentenced to life in prison for the April 1999 attack that prosecutors said was prompted by racial hatred and a falling out with fellow skinheads. Roten will be sentenced Nov. 30.
``This was his time in his silly, sick, twisted mind to go out in a blaze of glory,'' Assistant State Attorney Bill Loughery said in closing arguments. ``He was a powder keg just waiting to explode. All he needed was a spark.''
The jury was told Roten hated minorities and fired through the outside wall of the girl's bedroom as they slept in the St. Petersburg home of their father, Terry Mance. The bullet killed Ashley Mance and wounded her twin, Aleesha, and Jailene Jones, their half-sister.
The twins' parents are divorced. The father, who is black, was living with a white woman at the time of the shooting.
Defense attorney Buck Blankner said Roten did not mean to hurt the girls and that his assault rifle went off accidentally. He asked the jurors to return nothing more serious than a manslaughter verdict, claiming the prosecution did not prove Roten was motivated by racial hatred.
Jurors were shown pictures of Roten posing in front of a Nazi flag and of racists tattoos on his arms. When police went to Roten's home to arrest him, they found a signed note on his bedroom door saying ``Someone had too for race and nation.''
The biological parents of the dead girl and surviving children were in court when the jury returned its verdict and sat not far from members of Roten's family, who cried.