ST. PETE: Guilty Plea from Driver in Paris Whitehead-Hamilton Shooting

You may remember the three (3) St. Pete men that were charged in a high-publicity St. Petersburg shooting that killed an adorable young girl — who was caught in the crossfire of a gang/neighborhood dispute back in 2009.On Wednesday, Mario Lewis Walls pleaded Gulity to the Second Degree Murder of Paris Whitehead-Hamilton. As part of his plea deal, he has agreed to testify against his two (2) co-Defendants: Dondre Davis and Stephen Harper..

Back in 2009, Whitehead-Hamilton, who was then 8 years old, was killed when bullets fired by rival gang members flew into her St. Petersburg bedroom. The shooting caused an outrage in the city of St. Pete because of its high-level of violence (as well as the fact that no one would step forward as a witness or provide the St. Pete Police Department (SPPD) or the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) with any information on the suspects.

The investigation into this shooting revealed an often-complained-about informal policy of “no snitching” in the city of St. Pete. It also raised issues of trust between the residents of St. Pete and their own police department.

In total, more than fifty (50) rounds of assault-rifle ammo were fired into Paris’ home at 771 Preston Avenue South. That street now bears her name after the city changed it to Paris Avenue.Investigators say Walls was the getaway driver. He faces life in prison. However, because the State allowed him to plead Guilty to Second Degree Murder instead of First Degree Murder, in exchange for his cooperation and testimony, there is a good possibility that he will receive a lighter sentence.

Davis is next up for Trial in April. If he his found Guilty of First Degree Murder, there are only two (2) possible sentences: LIFE in prison (without the possibility of parole) or the death penalty.

The Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog is written by local criminal defense attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten of the Clearwater-based Blake & Dorsten, P.A..

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