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Driver who killed man in Pinellas road rage shooting gets 30-year prison sentence

In April, 34-year-old William Shutt was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Quentin Hicks, 42.
 
William Shutt is pictured during his sentencing hearing Friday at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Shutt was convicted of manslaughter in a road rage shooting that left one man dead and another injured in St. Petersburg in 2019. He was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison.
William Shutt is pictured during his sentencing hearing Friday at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Shutt was convicted of manslaughter in a road rage shooting that left one man dead and another injured in St. Petersburg in 2019. He was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 28, 2022

During a sentencing hearing Friday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico paused to reflect on all the cases he’d seen in 28 years on the bench — and nearly four decades working in the criminal justice system.

Before him sat William Shutt, a 34-year-old Pinellas County man who shot and killed another driver during a road rage incident in St. Petersburg’s historic Old Northeast neighborhood three years ago.

“It’s painful, after all these years, to be still sitting here and having to comment on these kinds of situations,” Federico said. “There’s no winners today, unfortunately.”

While driving through St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast neighborhoods on March 27, 2019, Shutt argued with Quentin Hicks, 42, and Tyler Oliverbrooks Acker, then 31, at several intersections. When Hicks pulled up next to Shutt at the intersection of Bay Street NE and 17th Avenue NE, Shutt pulled a gun, shooting and killing Hicks. Acker was shot in the leg.

Judge Philip Federico discusses his reasoning during the sentencing of William Shutt Friday at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Federico gave Shutt the maximum sentence of 30 years for his manslaughter conviction in a road rage shooting that left one man dead and another injured in St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast neighborhood three years ago.
Judge Philip Federico discusses his reasoning during the sentencing of William Shutt Friday at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Federico gave Shutt the maximum sentence of 30 years for his manslaughter conviction in a road rage shooting that left one man dead and another injured in St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast neighborhood three years ago. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Shutt initially faced second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder charges, but in April, a jury found him guilty of just one lesser charge: manslaughter. Had he been convicted of second-degree murder, Shutt could have faced up to life in prison.

On Friday, Federico gave Shutt the maximum prison sentence of 30 years that prosecutors and the victim’s family requested.

Shutt’s attorneys had asked for five years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. During the hearing, they brought forward family members and friends who discussed Shutt’s military background and described him as a helpful and caring person.

Shutt’s mother, Bernadette Shutt, described her son as a man who served his country and had a sense of civic duty.

“We ask the court to have mercy on him,” she said during the sentencing.

Hicks’ family members also spoke, sharing the loss they had suffered. They spoke of Hicks’ wife, also a veteran, who died in a car crash about a year later. They described how Hicks’ youngest son graduated the year his father died.

Shutt’s remarks following the sentencing were brief. He said he wasn’t the person that the media or prosecutors made him out to be.

“I feel for the family 100% and I’m sorry,” he added.

Federico said the case was “emblematic” of society today and described the crime as “mindless and senseless violence without any moral or legal justification.”

“There was too much testosterone and not enough common sense after that first stop sign,” he said.

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Shutt’s attorney, Roger Futerman, said his client will be appealing the sentence.

“Given the jury’s acquittal of murder and attempted murder, and a jury finding of the lessor of manslaughter, Mr. Shutt will be appealing both his motion for new trial on the remaining count and the rationale and proportionality of the sentence, of an individual with no felony record,” Futerman said.

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After the sentencing, Hicks’ family members hugged Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Traverso. Traverso told the Times she felt a sense of relief upon hearing the sentence.

Daryll Russell, the brother of Quentin Hicks, looks on as his mother, Evelyn Hicks, hugs Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Traverso, the lead prosecutor for the case, after the sentencing of William Shutt Friday at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Shutt was convicted of manslaughter in a road rage shooting that killed Quentin Hicks and injured another man three years ago.
Daryll Russell, the brother of Quentin Hicks, looks on as his mother, Evelyn Hicks, hugs Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Traverso, the lead prosecutor for the case, after the sentencing of William Shutt Friday at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Shutt was convicted of manslaughter in a road rage shooting that killed Quentin Hicks and injured another man three years ago. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

“The truth won, and I’m very pleased with the sentence,” she said.

Hicks’ family members also expressed relief.

“Our fight was a fight for justice,” said Rena Oliver, Hicks’ sister. Earlier, she had testified about the family’s trips to visit her brother’s grave.

“The defendant’s family goes to jail to see him,” Oliver addressed the judge. “We go to the gravesite.”