Trull given life in prison

Florida man, 30, sentenced in killings of Wichita and Hall

Not eligible for parole

Of 3 on spring break in '98, only Qubeck survived the attack

Columbia

April 04, 2001|By Ludmilla Lelis | Ludmilla Lelis,ORLANDO SENTINEL

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jonathan Trull, the 30-year-old Florida man convicted of killing two Maryland college students in April 1998, will spend the rest of his life behind bars, a judge ruled yesterday.

Going along with a jury's recommendation last week, Circuit Judge Shawn L. Briese sentenced Trull to two consecutive life terms in prison for the deaths of Matthew Wichita, 21, and Kevans Hall II, 23, both of Columbia. Trull is not eligible for parole.

Trull's sentence won't become final until he is sentenced for the attack on Seth Qubeck of Columbia, the only Maryland man to survive the fight. Trull was found guilty of the attempted second-degree murder of Qubeck, 21, and will be sentenced April 24.

Trull, who led the nighttime assault against the spring break visitors, was the only one of seven men, including his two brothers, convicted of murder in the stabbing deaths. Christopher Trull, 27, and Joshua Trull, 20, were found guilty of aggravated assault and aggravated battery and will be sentenced later. Four other men pleaded to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony against the Trull brothers. Their sentencing dates had not been set.

Only one family member of the Columbia victims attended yesterday's hearing. Hall's mother, Jill Carter, offered only one comment about the sentence, saying that while Trull's family members could see him, she and her family could never again see her son.

During the nine-week trial, which began Jan. 22, the jury found Jonathan Trull guilty of first-degree murder but did not recommend the death sentence. Judges rarely disregard the jury's recommendation in a death penalty case.

Defense attorney Gerard Keating, who represented Jonathan Trull, said he has a good chance for an appeal. He argued yesterday that the evidence showed Christopher Trull actually stabbed Hall and that there is only circumstantial evidence linking Jonathan Trull to Wichita's death.

DNA evidence showed that blood stains on the pickup truck that Jonathan Trull was driving matched Wichita's blood. Several witnesses also testified that Jonathan Trull's hair and chest were covered in blood as he left the murder scene. Keating said other theories could explain how Trull could have Wichita's blood without having made the fatal stab wound.

Keating said Jonathan Trull has accepted his fate. "He knows he faces life in prison and he's resigned to it," Keating said. "He's willing to take his medicine and go to prison."

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