05/19/2006

Former Fla. officer gets 26 years for manslaughter

The Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- A former police sergeant convicted of manslaughter in the 2002 shooting death of an unarmed man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Ronald Robbins, 46, of Edgewater, was sentenced Thursday for the fatal shooting of Jason Starkey, 22, after a fistfight in September 2002. A jury found Robbins guilty last month.

It was the second time a jury convicted Robbins. His original sentence of life in prison for second-degree murder was overturned when an appeals court ruled he did not get a fair trial.

Robbins said he shot his .22-caliber handgun out of self-defense because he thought he saw Jason Starkey holding a knife. Starkey ran 50 yards before he collapsed and died.

Witnesses testified that Starkey was walking away when Robbins fired his gun.

Robbins' attorney, Paul Kwilecki, said he plans to appeal and called the sentence "very excessive."

The victim's mother, Sandra Starkey, said her heart goes out to Robbins' mother.

"But I can't and won't ever forgive her son for taking away mine," Starkey said.

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