Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting of 8-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton

ST. PETERSBURG — One of the men charged in the shooting of 8-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against others in the case.

Mario Lewis Walls, 20, pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify against other defendants. Two others — Dondre Davis and Stephen Cortez Harper — have been charged in the case, but the investigation is continuing.

Paris was gunned down in her own home in April 2009 and her killing sparked outrage throughout St. Petersburg. The killers shot more than 50 rounds into her house at 771 Preston Ave. S using assault rifles, apparently to get back at someone else in the house who belonged to a rival gang or neighborhood group. The street has since been renamed Paris Avenue.

Assistant State Attorney Richard Ripplinger said Walls' plea and agreement to cooperate is an important step.

"We thought it was important to have someone who could give us detailed testimony who was in the street at the time of the shooting," Ripplinger said.

Attorney Lane Lastinger said Walls was the driver of the car and did not fire a gun, but pleaded guilty "to take responsibility for his involvement in the crime." Walls made an "open plea" last month, meaning Walls has no guarantee of how much time he will serve in prison.

He faces a maximum sentence of life, but it's possible that prosecutors could recommend a lighter sentence if he testifies as promised. If Walls had been convicted of first-degree murder, the only possible sentences would have been death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lastinger said Walls "hopes his cooperation will allow him to show atonement for his wrongs."

Davis is set to go on trial in April, which would be the first trial in connection with the case.

Asked about the overall investigation, St. Petersburg police Maj. Mike Kovacsev said "the ultimate goal would be to arrest the fourth individual."

Police have previously said there is another suspect, but no one has been formally charged.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or ckrueger@sptimes.com.

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting of 8-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton 01/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Illegal sign patrol on a mission to clean up Hillsborough streets

    Human Interest

    BRANDON --Jim Reed, rifling through the back of his Nissan Pathfinder, picks out a sign.

     Citizen volunteers, Reed and Bill Staley take down illegal roadside signs for county code enforcement.  CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  2. Video: Crowd catches teen falling from Six Flags ride

    Nation

    QUEENSBURY, N.Y. — A teenager fell about 25 feet (about 8 meters) from a stopped gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below to catch her before she hit the ground.

    A teenager fell from a stopped gondola ride at Six Flags in upstate New York. [FACEBOOK VIA LOREN LENT]
  3. Trump accuses Clinton of colluding with Democrats to defeat 'Crazy Bernie Sanders'

    National

    In the wake of a bombshell story about Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election - and persistent allegations that President Donald Trump's campaign may have colluded with Russia to win - Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning to accuse someone else of collusion: his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

    President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]
  4. Vending machines to give 100,000 free books to Florida kids

    Education

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Children in South Florida will soon be able to get free books from vending machines.

  5. Afraid of sharks in Florida? Flu, asteroids pose far greater risk

    Wildlife

    BOSTON — You might want a bigger boat, but you probably don't need better odds.

    FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, Captain Brett McBride places his hand on the snout of a great white shark while scientists collect blood, tissue samples and attach tracking devices on the research vessel Ocearch off the coast of Chatham, Mass. Before release, the nearly 15-foot, 2,292-pound shark was named Genie for famed shark researcher Eugenie Clark. Great white sharks are making their annual return to Cape Cod, rattling some boaters and beachgoers. Yet the chances of an attack resulting in serious injury or death are infinitesimally small. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File) BX302