A 38-year-old Pensacola man was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder for the shooting death last June of a state attorney's investigator at the home of the defendant's former girlfriend. The 12-member jury rejected Patrick Alan Salgat's attorney's claim that his client was in a passionate rage after seeing Steve Bolyard having sex with Salgat's ex-girlfriend. Defense attorney Clyde Taylor argued that Salgat was incapable of reflecting on his actions, and that Bolyard's slaying was justifiable.
In his closing argument Wednesday, Assistant State Attorney Neill Wade told jurors Salgat's testimony about Charlotte Blevins having sex with Bolyard, 37, of Milton was untrue.
"Even if you took leave of your senses and believed his lies, you'd still have to convict him of first-degree murder," Wade said.
"Seeing someone having sex with his ex-girlfriend inside her home is not an excuse for shooting him. And people who sneak around outside someone's home do not have the right to shoot someone inside, much less chase them down the street shooting," he said.
Circuit Judge Nancy Gilliam did not immediately schedule a penalty hearing, but it is expected to be held in a week or two.
The same Santa Rosa County jury will reconvene to make a recommendation to the judge on whether Salgat should be sentenced to death in the electric chair or life in prison without parole for at least 25 years. Those are the only penalties possible for first-degree murder.
Salgat was hospitalized in critical condition five days before the trial started after he tried to commit suicide in jail by overdosing on anti-depressant pills. But he was sufficiently recovered for the trial to start on schedule May 28.
The jury deliberated for more than nine hours Wednesday and Thursday before reaching a verdict. The panel also found Salgat guilty of attempted murder, grand theft, tampering with a witness, burglary, shooting into an occupied dwelling and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Bolyard was hit by shots fired through a window of Blevins' Gulf Breeze home last June 18, and then he stumbled outside and was shot again.
The investigator had been assigned to protect Blevins and document threats Salgat allegedly made against her while free on bail under a charge of stealing jewelry from her home.
However, authorities said he was unarmed when slain. His gun and badge were found in his unmarked car parked outside the house.
Salgat testified Tuesday and admitted shooting the investigator after peering through a window and seeing him having sex with Blevins. He said a shot fired from inside the home nearly hit him before he started shooting.
"I went to the kitchen window and fired twice," Salgat testified. "I didn't know what I was doing. I seen the back of a man. I figured he was the one shooting at me."
Salgat said he then saw the man outside the house and fired two more shots before fleeing.
Blevins testified earlier and denied she had sex with Bolyard, saying they just talked, watched television and drank wine coolers. She also testified Salgat fired the first shots. Blevins said she then fired one shot inside the house to test her gun while hiding in the bathroom.
Salgat admitted he was asking the jury to take the word of a four-time convicted felon but argued Blevins' credibility also was suspect because she was divorced three times, violating her wedding vows.