BROOKSVILLE — Since he was arrested two years ago and charged with second-degree murder, William James Siskos had repeatedly claimed self-defense before both judge and jury.
Again and again, he failed.
Thursday's sentencing hearing was no different.
Siskos received the maximum sentence of life in prison for shooting and killing his girlfriend's husband. Siskos stood quietly in an orange jumpsuit in Hernando County Circuit Court as the judgment was read, showing little emotion.
"I don't derive any pleasure from these types of things," Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. said moments before reading the sentence. "Sir, I find you are deserving."
The judge opted for the harshest sentence available. The minimum would have been 25 years.
A six-member jury on June 14 found Siskos guilty of second-degree murder, deciding that the 42-year-old former corrections officer was not acting in self-defense when he shot Joey Kasbach, 46, in the late-night hours of July 9, 2010, at a home on Ligonier Road in Spring Hill.
Prosecutors painted Siskos as a jealous boyfriend, angered by his girlfriend Kim Kasbach's decision that night to hang out with friends and the husband from whom she had separated months earlier.
Though the two men had never met, they were keenly aware of one another. Kim Kasbach was living with Siskos, but still friendly with her husband, prosecutors said. The tension of the love triangle culminated in the shooting.
Kasbach's sister, Karen Braden, teared up as Merritt handed down the sentence.
"I was hoping that's what was coming," Braden said. "We've been waiting a long time for this. It's been very hard. It's finally done. Finally over with."
Minutes before, she had gone before the court and spoke briefly about her brother and the terrible impact of his death on her family, especially their mother.
"Her loss was so incredible," Braden said.
As she spoke, she refused to look at Siskos.
"I don't care about him," she said. "He has another judgment coming up, and that's what he's going to have to deal with."
She left the room when Siskos was given a chance to speak.
"I never intended to fatally injure my attacker," he started. "It happened so fast. I heard him make a threat and seen him reach under his seat for a weapon. I was punched, and everything went wobbly.
He said he couldn't retreat. He feared he would be shot.
Merritt didn't give much credence to Siskos' version of events.
"The statement you've just given was in essence — or not in essence, it was in fact — the same story you presented to the jury," the judge said. "And obviously, the jury did not agree.
"In the preliminary . . . hearing, prior to your trial, one of the witnesses testified you shot the victim like a dog."
He paused several seconds.
"Perhaps the jury so found," Merritt said. "Nevertheless, you made the ultimate in poor decisions from which there is no return."
Times staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.