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Gunman in Old Northeast road rage shooting guilty of manslaughter

William Shutt faced a second-degree murder charge. Jurors convicted him of a lesser manslaughter charge.
 
William Shutt, 34, was found guilty of manslaughter. He faces up to 30 years in prison.
William Shutt, 34, was found guilty of manslaughter. He faces up to 30 years in prison. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published April 11, 2022|Updated April 11, 2022

A jury on Monday found a Pinellas County man guilty of manslaughter in a road rage shooting that left one man dead and another injured in St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast neighborhood three years ago.

The shooting took place at the intersection of Bay Street NE and 17th Avenue NE on March 27, 2019.

William Shutt, 34, had clashed with Quentin Hicks, 42, and Tyler Oliverbrooks Acker, then 31, at a series of intersections and pulled out a gun, fatally shooting Hicks. Acker was shot in the leg.

Shutt, who has been held at the Pinellas County jail since his arrest a week after the shooting, will be sentenced on June 3. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors charged Shutt with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, but jurors settled on a lesser charge of manslaughter and acquitted him of the attempted murder charge.

“I believe that it was second-degree murder but realistically I can see how what occurred could be interpreted as manslaughter,” said Richard Ripplinger, an assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case. “I totally disagree with the acquittal on the attempt.”

The jury came to their decision after about two hours of deliberation. After the verdict, Hicks’ family gathered outside the courtroom to speak with prosecutors. They declined to comment on the jury’s decision.

In closing arguments earlier Monday, Shutt’s attorney, Roger Futerman leaned heavily on arguments that the shooting did not meet the bar for a second-degree murder conviction and told jurors they could convict Shutt of lesser charges, including manslaughter.

“Manslaughter with a firearm is an incredibly serious charge,” Futerman said. “It is life altering.”

Futerman argued that in order to convict someone of second-degree murder, the state would have to prove that Shutt was acting out of hatred, spite, ill will or an evil intent. A person should not be convicted of second-degree murder if they acted in the heat of the moment after being provoked, he said.

He also argued that Shutt was not guilty of attempted second-degree murder, as he said Shutt only intended to shoot Hicks, not Acker, and six of the seven bullets Shutt fired struck Hicks.

Shutt took the stand during trial last week and said he thought Hicks was reaching for a gun, which prompted him to shoot. However, no gun was found and prosecutors said Hicks didn’t have one.

“He didn’t even see a gun,” Ripplinger said.