Thursday, February 12, 2009

Playing Lets Make A Deal in Melissa Lightsey's Murder

After he murdered his wife in November, Benjamin Lightsey made up a cover story about her disappearing off Vilano Beach after a midnight swim.

Earlier this week, the time for deception was over when the tearful 31-year-old father of two pleaded guilty to beating and strangling Melissa L. Lightsey, 36. He was sentenced to an agreed-upon 25 years in prison for second-degree murder.Lawyers said the deal came together last week after Benjamin Lightsey gave police a nearly five-hour sworn statement and Melissa Lightsey’s family consented to the plea bargain. Both the family and prosecutors said he appeared genuinely remorseful.“At least this phase is over,” said Melinda Bryan, the victim’s mother.Benjamin Lightsey said little in court but told police Friday that he snapped after the couple arrived home from a Nov. 8 wedding reception, where they had argued, said Assistant State Attorney Robert Mathis.

Lightsey hit his wife, then choked her, and when he realized what he had done, took her to the beach and left her body in the water, Mathis said.“It was a combination of temper and alcohol,” the prosecutor said. “I think it preyed on his mind. You could actually see relief cover his face when he told us what happened.”Mathis said a transcript of the statement hasn’t been completed.

Lightsey told Circuit Judge Wendy Berger on Tuesday, “I’m still married.” He said he wanted to meet his victim’s family privately, but they declined.They didn’t rule out a future meeting, however.“I can’t forgive him. Not now,” Bryan said.Melissa Lightsey’s body was found by a boater Nov. 9, about 15 hours after her husband told police he last saw her. Initially, her injuries appeared consistent with being struck by a boat propeller, but an autopsy cast doubt on Benjamin Lightsey’s story. He was arrested 10 days later.

Defense attorney Patrick Canan said Lightsey was in shock after the murder and initially spoke of fleeing before being talked out of it by his father, Glenn, a former deputy and candidate for St. Johns County sheriff. Canan said Benjamin Lightsey admitted quickly to him that he was responsible, and plea negotiations began with prosecutors in December."I’ve been in this business many years, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen ... such remorse and contrition,” Canan said. “In his heart, he’ll suffer forever for what occurred.”Lightsey had been charged with first-degree premeditated murder, which carries a possible death sentence, but Mathis said no one connected to the case sincerely believed the killing was premeditated.

Berger told Lightsey he should have sought help for his temper before it was too late. She said his actions hurt two families and orphaned his own children.“I don’t know you, but I know your family,” she said. “You come from a good family, and you have disgraced their name.”A search warrant was issued in November for a truck belonging to Glenn Lightsey, who authorities were told was called by his son to help search for his wife. His father now works as a private investigator. Mathis said after court Tuesday he couldn’t say definitively whether Glenn Lightsey was involved in the cover- up.


Anonymous said...

These cases should not be allowed to be plea bargined. He should receive life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Florida said...

Ben Lightsey confesses to a pre-planned murder? And gets a sentence allowing release with good behaavior in what 12 years?

You call justice? I call a tragedy. And will he petition the courts for visitation with his children from behind bars? The kids ar. The kids are without their mom she couldn't plea bargrin for her life why is he allowed to plea out for his?

Their should a no plea law in all murder cases in the country.

Cargo said...

Sounds his temper had a bad day unable to control the rage inside so he murders his wife.

His children have not had a good day she their mother went missing and they never will again. So what makes this murdering asshole so special?

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