Death sentence upheld in Duval murders

Published on October 26, 2023 at 2:45 pm

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld two death sentences for a man who was convicted of murdering a friend and the friend’s 13-year-old son in 2004 in Duval County.

Justices rejected a series of arguments raised by Thomas Bevel, who murdered Garrick Stringfield, 30, in the home they shared. Bevel also was convicted of murdering Stringfield’s son, Phillip Sims, and attempting to murder Feletta Smith, a woman Bevel and Stringfield had known since childhood, according to Thursday’s opinion.

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Bevel, now 42, told police that he and Stringfield had been fighting about money and that he feared Stringfield was going to kill him, the opinion said.

While Bevel was sentenced to death in 2005, the Supreme Court in 2017 ordered a new sentencing proceeding, at least in part because it found he had received “ineffective” legal representation.

The new proceeding also led to Bevel being sentenced to death. The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected arguments about issues such as whether Bevel was under “extreme mental and emotional disturbance at the time of the murders.”

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