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Plant City murderer gets life in prison for killing bystander

TAMPA — Fransisco Rangel, who fatally shot an innocent bystander while fleeing from Hillsborough sheriff's deputies in 2008, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Rangel, 28, took a plea deal Wednesday to avoid the death penalty. The deal stipulates he can't appeal the life sentence.

He already had been sentenced to life in prison for the Dec. 4 shooting death of his friend, Michael Longoria.

That shooting led deputies to follow Rangel near Plant City on Dec. 5. Realizing they were on his trail, Rangel stopped his car on the James L. Redman Parkway and opened fire.

The deputies were unharmed, but Candelario Lagunes, a passenger in his son's car, was shot and killed by a stray bullet.

Lagunes, 58, left behind a wife, three children and four grandchildren. His wife, Virginia Lagunes, spoke during sentencing.

"Maybe he'll think and have some kind of remorse," she said in Spanish. "He destroyed lives, very beautiful lives."

Rangel stood, faced the family and asked for forgiveness.

"I only want to say I regret what I've done," he said.

He turned to the deputies and apologized for putting their lives in danger.

Rangel thanked two of the deputies for being honest, then rebuked two others, accusing them of lying during the investigation.

"I don't understand how you guys were able to identify me," he said.

No one responded.

Then Circuit Judge William Fuente read the sentences:

Life in prison six times over for the first-degree murder of Lagunes and the attempted murder of five law enforcement officers; 30 years for two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; 40 years for shooting at vehicles; and five years for fleeing from law enforcement.

Rangel already has filed an appeal in the first shooting. Fuente told Rangel that even if he's awarded a new trial, it won't affect the latest life sentence.

Outside the courtroom, sheriff's Maj. Harold Winsett assured the tearful family that Rangel will never get out of prison.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or

Plant City murderer gets life in prison for killing bystander 03/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:57pm]
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