Lester Verdict

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

A Jackson County jury came back with a guilty verdict Thursday morning against an Alabama man charged with second degree murder. Now, Stephen Lester is facing a possible life sentence.

What took a year to come to trial a jury was decided in less than an hour.

"We the jury find as follows, as to the defendant in this case, the defendant is guilty of second degree murder with a firearm."

Jurors found 27-year-old Stephen Lester guilty of killing Andre Sawyer. A passing driver in Campbellton found the 19-year-old's body face down in a ditch off of Highway 2 last August.

During closing arguments Thursday morning, prosecutor Mark Sims showed jurors the murder weapon, reminding them of the evidence against Lester, a stack of evidence Lester's attorney could not overcome during his summation.

Mark Sims, prosecutor, said, "I just appreciate everybody’s help in getting this victory. We all feel like justice is served."

The victim's mother, Sharon Alexander said she too was pleased by the verdict.

"I feel very relieved. I felt peace down on the inside. I felt peace any way before the verdict," she shared.

But she realizes it won't bring back her son.

"That was my son. That was my baby and I can't talk to him. He can't walk around and have fun with us. He can't, and I can't see him."

Now Andre Sawyer's family begins the process of closure, a memorial service to be held this weekend.

"In his honor and for this victory, just to put closure so he can be at peace."

The court will conduct a pre-sentencing investigation before Judge William Right pronounces Lester's sentence next month. Under Florida's 10-20-LIFE law, he could get life in prison.


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