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Young man doomed to life in cell

It took a jury only an hour and 35 minutes Wednesday to convict George "Jimmy" Goughf of carjacking, kidnapping, robbery and aggravated battery.

Goughf then asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Michael Andrews to sentence him right away.

Andrews obliged in less than five minutes, handing Goughf four consecutive life sentences and 15 years.

"If you are so devoid of feeling toward your fellow man . . . ," Andrews told the 24-year-old, "it seems to me you have forfeited your right to live among your fellow man."

According to investigators, Goughf, along with Edwin Humphrey, Richard Matthew Touchton and Robert Hay, carjacked Martyn Paladino on June 28, 2001. They stuffed him in the trunk of his cab and drove him to a sand pit, where they beat him and shot at him. Later, the four men took Paladino back to his home, where they continued to terrorize him and his house guest, Kirk Neal.

Humphrey has been convicted for his part in the crimes and received a life sentence. Touchton is slated for trial in March. Hay was killed the following day by his accomplices, detectives say.

In asking to receive his sentence immediately after being found guilty, Goughf forfeited his right to have his attorney, Larry Hoffman, investigate and present any mitigating factors that led to Goughf's role in the crimes.

In another unusual request, Goughf asked Andrews if he could go immediately to state prison rather than continue to stay at the Pasco County Jail as he awaits trial in the coming months for his alleged role in Hay's slaying.

"I understand, sir, and I'm sorry to inconvenience you," Andrews said with mild sarcasm before denying Goughf's request.

In a short statement before the sentencing, Paladino asked Andrews to give Goughf the maximum penalty, saying his life will never be the same after that night. He thinks of the brutality of the attack before falling asleep every night, he added.

During closing arguments, prosecutors Debra Tuomey and Scott Andringa asked the jury to remember that three separate people identified Goughf as one of the attackers. Goughf implicated himself and gave specific details about the crime to Pasco County sheriff's Detective Leonard Longo, Tuomey said.

Hoffman asked the jury to consider the lack of physical evidence in the case and questioned the witnesses' ability to recognize Goughf.

Detectives didn't need to test the physical evidence for fingerprints and hairs as they had three reliable witnesses and a confession, Andringa said.

"All the evidence in this case corroborates the other evidence," he said.

_ Richard Raeke covers courts in west Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6236, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6236. His e-mail address is rraekesptimes.com.

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