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Judge Weighs Death Penalty For Florida Man Who Killed Girlfriend, ‘Hunted Down’ And Shot Her 10-Year-Old Son

“The day the defendant chose to shoot and kill my oldest daughter, and hunt down, torture and brutally murder my only biological grandson, part of me died,” said Robert Hewitt, the father of Stephanie Willis, who was fatally shot, along with her 10-year-old son, Ricky “Ryon” Willis in 2018.

By Dorian Geiger

A Florida judge is weighing the death penalty for a man convicted of gunning down his girlfriend and her 10-year-old son in a dispute over the television. 

A 12-member jury unanimously recommended Tyrone Johnson be executed on Wednesday for the 2018 killings of 34-year-old Stephanie Willis and her son, Ricky “Ryon” Willis, according to the Office Of The State Attorney 13th Judicial Circuit Of Florida.

Johnson was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder in Stephanie Willis’s killing, as well as first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse for the murder of her 10-year-old boy.

Prosecutors said Johnson mercilessly “hunted down” his girlfriend and her 10 year-old-son on Oct. 21, 2018  at a Hillsborough County home they shared.

On Oct. 21, 2018 Johnson called 911 and reported that he’d shot two people because he was “being attacked,” according to the arrest affidavit, w obtained by Oxygen.com.

Johnson later told detectives he’d had a verbal dispute with Willis over “changing the television station to watch a football game." He fatally shot her with a Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol he kept in the home. 

Johnson then shot Ricky Willis as he hid under his bed, according to prosecutors.

Stephanie Willis And Ricky Ryon Willis Fl Sao 2

"We have shell casings,” prosecutor John Terry said during Johnson’s police questioning. “We have blood. We have holes in the wall in the little boy’s room.”

Johnson had lived with Willis and her son for roughly one year. 

On the third day of the murder trial, the jury was shown a disturbing video of Johnson’s police interview, in which he sobbed uncontrollably.

"I changed the TV to football," he told investigators, according to WTVT.

Johnson also claimed his girlfriend had blamed him for his own son’s suicide. 

"She said, ‘That’s why my son killed himself like a little [expletive] because you’re a [expletive],’" Johnson said.

Tyrone Johnson Fl State Attorneys Office 2

Prior to her death, Stephanie Willis worked as a home health aide, providing care for seniors, prosecutors said. She was originally from Beaufort, South Carolina, according to her obituary. Her son, who was in fifth grade at the time of his death, played the drums. 

“The day the defendant chose to shoot and kill my oldest daughter, and hunt down, torture and brutally murder my only biological grandson, part of me died,” Robert Hewitt, Stephanie Willis’ father and Ricky Willis’ grandfather, said. “Not only did he take away my family, he took away my future generations. I am thankful for the decision in this case. After three years, we have received justice for Stephanie and Ryon.”

Judge Christopher Sabella is now expected to review the case’s evidence in the coming weeks and determine whether to approve or deny the jury panel’s decision recommending Johnson’s execution.

Johnson is currently being held at a Hillsborough County jailhouse, according to online jail records.

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