WEST PALM BEACH – Jurors wept as they convicted 40-year-old Robert Finney III of manslaughter, and so did his victim’s mother. She roared in court: it was murder.
Bailiffs sent Robert Anthony’s family out at gunpoint as they insulted his killer. A man’s voice stood out above the noise.
“He’s still getting life in prison,” he said.
He was right. Months after jurors rejected prosecutors’ theory that a jealous Finney pursued his wife to kill her and the 20-year-old man he found her alone with, Judge Jeffrey Gillen nevertheless sentenced him to the maximum sentence: life in prison for aggravated assault. injuries, 15 years for manslaughter and another 15 years for firing into an occupied vehicle.
For subscribers: A jury convicted Robert Finney III of a fatal shooting in 2018. The victim’s family wanted more.
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Gillen’s decision came Thursday after an hour of testimony from both families, one begging for mercy and the other for the harshest sentence the state allowed.
“I want him to pay for what he did,” said Anthony’s mother, Valerie Thornton-Anthony. “For what he took.”
The victim’s family asked the judge for life imprisonment
Finney shot Anthony, a graduate of Royal Palm Beach High School, after finding him in his car with Finney’s then-wife, Roqueria Mills, on March 10, 2018, in the parking lot of Village Place Apartments, a gated complex along Village Boulevard in West Palm Beach.
Finney also shot 20-year-old Mills, paralyzing her for life. Lawyers offered wildly different accounts over the course of the trial to explain what led up to the shooting.
In one, Finney was a loving, devoted husband, abused by his wife and afraid to shoot her and her companion when he opened his car door to find a stranger inside. In the other, he was a jealous and insecure partner who stalked his wife and executed the man he found her with, fabricating the self-defense story years later to cover his tracks.
At the end of each version was the death of Anthony, whom Mills had met just the night before as he celebrated his 20th birthday.e birthday. He was six feet tall and a joker, his mother said. He loved to play basketball and was always the first at the table for Sunday dinners with his family.
He could have walked away with his life, she said, if Finney had chosen to speak instead of shoot. Anthony’s face beamed to the judge from the tailored sweater his mother wore Thursday, his name printed on her shoulders.
The jury did not believe that Robert Finney deliberately killed Robert Anthony
Finney’s family presented the judge with their own photos detailing Finney’s life. It was a sincere one, they said. He grew up in Belle Glade and won the state football championship as a member of the Glades Central High School football team. He pursued bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice, had no previous criminal history, and was involved in a church where his father is a deacon.
Assistant public defender Stephen Arbuzow spoke last in Finney’s defense. The jury had not found Finney a murderer, he said, and he should not be punished as such.
The lightest sentence Gillen could hand down was about 16 years in prison, according to Florida’s criminal record. Arbuzow recommended 25 years to consider a state statute that increases penalties for crimes committed with a gun, which Finney was licensed to carry at the time of the shooting.
Mills, Anthony’s family and the prosecution wanted more. Assistant state attorney Francine Edwards recommended that Gillen sentence Finney to life in prison, in addition to two consecutive 15-year sentences.
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Gillen listened to every argument and occasionally nodded to himself.
Mills, now 25, testified about Zoom from a hospital bed, where she said she’s had more than 25 surgeries since the shooting. She is in and out of there constantly, battling infections that she said will one day kill her. Her son can no longer sit on her lap without hurting her.
“While he may be locked up, he will never experience the kind of pain and trauma that we have,” Mills said. Finney’s aunt listened from the gallery, her lips pursed tightly.
Finney took Anthony’s life and sentenced hers to the confinement of a wheelchair, Mills said — he deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison for it. Gillen agreed. He pronounced the sentence exactly as Edwards had asked him to.
The reaction in the courtroom this time was calmer than when he announced the verdict in November. Finney’s family sat motionless, and so did Anthony’s. His mother started to cry. It wasn’t the verdict they wanted, the family said in the hallway afterwards, but it was the ending they needed.
Hannah Phillips is a public safety and criminal justice journalist at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Man Who Killed Husband, Paralyzed Woman Sentenced To Life In Prison