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Killer who used samurai sword gets 40 years in prison

Willie Tarpley Jr., 47, used a samurai sword to kill his victim.

Willie Tarpley Jr., 47, used a samurai sword to kill his victim.

TAMPA — For killing a man with a samurai sword, Willie Tarpley Jr. received a 40-year prison sentence Friday.

Tarpley, 47, claims he wanted only to protect his young daughters from their mother's new sex offender boyfriend and never meant to kill on May 12, 2007.

But a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in April. At Tarpley's sentencing Friday, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Gabbard noted the irony of his defense: Tarpley, too, is a registered sex offender. He and his estranged wife, Jacqueline, served prison time for the October 1987 kidnapping and sexual torture of a 21-year-old woman, one of the most horrific sex crimes in the county's history, Gabbard said.

"So he knows some situations need explaining," she said. "He didn't bother to get an explanation about who Lee Alexander was."

Tarpley went to his former family home in Brandon to confront his wife after learning that she was dating Alexander, a 25-year-old ranch hand from Polk County who had been convicted as a teenager of a lewd and lascivious act on a person younger than 16. He had served three months' probation for the crime.

Tarpley stabbed Alexander three times through an open car window after he backed into the older man's Corvette.

Alexander's mother was still too distraught over losing her only son to attend the sentencing. Other family members, clad in T-shirts bearing the dead man's picture, cried as they talked about the 8-month-old daughter Alexander left behind.

"All we have is a spot in a cemetery and memories," said 20-year-old Christina Perez, Alexander's cousin.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente also gave Tarpley to 10 years of probation.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Killer who used samurai sword gets 40 years in prison 05/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 11:14pm]
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