INVERNESS — Throughout the weeklong murder trial of Byron Lee Boutin, Melba Nephew, the mother of 18-year-old victim DeAnna Lee Stires, never spoke a word in court.
But on Thursday, just before sentencing the man convicted in the December murder of her daughter, Citrus County Circuit Judge Richard H. Howard allowed Nephew to have her say via video feed from Rochester, N.Y.
Seated with her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, and her husband, John, Nephew expressed her wish for Boutin to receive the maximum sentence allowed by law.
"I want him to suffer," she said in a trembling voice. "I hope he suffers every day for what he took from me and my family."
As he did throughout most of his trial in August, the 42-year-old Boutin sat silently and with his head down as Howard sentenced him to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Noting that the accused once held a life of promise working as an avionics specialist aboard some of the Navy's most advanced aircraft carriers, Howard admonished Boutin for allowing his life to veer off track and spiral into a dark, sinister world of drugs, which ultimately contributed to the death last December of Stires, a Brooksville resident.
"It wasn't worth the young woman's life," Howard said. "Or your life."
Boutin originally faced a first-degree murder charge after being arrested along with 36-year-old Crystal Michelle Brinson after Stires' body was discovered in a remote wooded area in Levy County. A 12-member Citrus County jury took 3 1/2 hours to decide that Boutin was guilty of second-degree murder.
As he did at Boutin's trial, defense attorney Charles Vaughn stated that his client's participation in the killing was minor at best, and that it was Brinson who on Dec. 24 injected Stires with a lethal dose of morphine after Boutin discovered she had stolen his methamphetamine at his home in Homosassa.
Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino argued that the evidence and testimony at the trial didn't support Vaughn's claim.
Boutin, Magrino said, was a cold-blooded killer who "bound (Stires) up and left her to die" after she was injected with the morphine.
Brinson remains incarcerated in the Citrus County Detention Facility. Her trial date has not been set.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.