BROOKSVILLE — It took Hernando Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner just a few minutes to hand out consecutive life sentences to 23-year-old Stephen Horne on Thursday for the murder of his father in 2010.
Horne stood off to the side of the courtroom in an orange prison uniform and with his hands cuffed in front of him. He held his head up and occasionally looked at a row of family members sitting near the front of the room. Tattoos covered his face and neck. He didn't speak before the judge's ruling and he didn't speak afterwards.
Toner sentenced him to two life sentences for first-degree murder and armed robbery, with the murder judgement coming with no possibility of parole. Toner also gave Horne 15 years for possession of a short-barreled shotgun.
"At some point in time, in the next world, Mr. Horne will have an opportunity to see his father again," the judge said.
Authorities say Horne and an accomplice, Angel Gonzalez, picked up Ivan Horne, 47, in Tampa late on May 3, 2010. Ivan Horne sat in the passenger seat, and his son, holding the shotgun, rode in back.
Gonzalez, who was also sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder, drove to a vacant house in Ridge Manor. Once there, Horne pumped a round into his father's back. As he lay dying, Horne shot him three more times.
The two men stole Ivan Horne's prescribed oxycodone pills and about $640 in cash. They also stripped him of his boots, trousers and cell phone.
Thursday's ruling was actually the second time that Stephen Horne had been sentenced to life in prison in the case.
In September 2011, Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Sr. also sentenced him to life without parole following a guilty verdict. In December 2013, the 5th District Court of Appeal reversed Horne's conviction, finding that Merritt should have granted a motion to suppress the defendant's confession. The appeals court found that Hernando sheriff's detectives violated Horne's right to remain silent by continuing to question him after he told both detectives, in separate interviews, that he was "done talking."
Last month, a jury again found Stephen Horne guilty — this time without the video confession that served as the foundation of the state's first case.
Contact Danny Valentine at email@example.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.