World News | Man gets 40 years in prison for killing pregnant Florida teen

St. Petersburg, April 29 (AP) A man who pleaded guilty this month to the murder of a pregnant Florida teenager a decade ago was sentenced to 40 years in prison after sending authorities to dig a field in the Alabama countryside in an unsuccessful search for her body.

Jacobee Flowers, 34, would have received a lighter sentence of 25 years in prison if the body of 17-year-old Morgan Martin was found, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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He had told authorities in Pike County, Alabama where to look in their fruitless search earlier this month.

Flowers, the father of Martin’s unborn child, was taken into custody on Tuesday and apologized for his actions during his sentencing on Thursday.

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“I want you all to know that I am a human being. I’m not a freak, despite what you may think,” he said.

“Not a day has gone by in the last 10 years that I haven’t felt the deepest regret.”

Leah Martin, the teenager’s mother, was not receptive.

“I hope every day you sleep you have to see her,” the teenager’s mother, Leah Martin, shouted at Flowers outside court on Thursday.

“Do you understand me? I hope you see his face and the child you killed. You didn’t just kill my child, you killed yours.

Court records show Martin left the house one night in 2012 to speak to Flowers and never returned.

For years, her disappearance was filed as a missing person case and Flowers was listed as a person of interest.

Eventually, he was turned over to a cold case team who found evidence linking Flowers to his murder – even though Martin’s body had not been found.

In 2016, a grand jury indicted Flowers, who was in state custody on charges unrelated at the time, with first-degree murder in the teen’s death. Six years passed before he pleaded guilty this month to a lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Flowers said Martin’s body was buried in a field in Alabama and, as part of the April 1 plea deal, he promised to help authorities recover it in exchange for a lighter sentence. .

According to court records, the 2012 text messages showed a strained relationship, with Flowers pleading with Martin to terminate the pregnancy because having the baby could affect his existing relationship with another woman. Then 24, he was also worried about accusations he had sex with a minor, officials said.

Martin decided to continue with the pregnancy, choosing Ja’Leah as the name of his baby girl, the newspaper reported.

Detectives from the Cold Case Team obtained the cellphone tower recordings to track Flowers’ movements the night Martin disappeared.

Records show he walked around his house, then went to his house before going to a restaurant where he worked the last shift.

He also visited the mother of two of his children before returning to the restaurant.

He then drove around Tampa Bay before returning to St. Petersburg.

Why authorities believed Martin’s remains were in Alabama was unclear.

After Flowers pleaded guilty, he spoke with Alabama investigators via video chat and directed them to a specific location, Pike County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Troy Johnson told WTSP in Tampa.

Investigators used ground-penetrating radar to search and also brought in a backhoe to dig more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep during a week-long search that turned up empty.

“Unfortunately, whether because of the many years that have passed or because of the unreliability of the information we have obtained, we simply could not find what we were looking for,” the spokeswoman said. of the Saint Petersburg police. Yolanda Fernandez told WTSP. (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from syndicated newsfeed, LatestLY staff may not have edited or edited the body of the content)

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