Young Florida Man Who Stabbed 13-Year-Old Boy to Death During Sleepover Gets Life in Prison
A young Florida man was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for killing a 13-year-old boy during a sleepover five years ago.
During his sentencing, Corey Johnson, now 21, apologized to the family of Jovanni Sierra and even denounced the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) that his lawyers claimed influenced his thinking.
"I know I contributed to the spread of evil in this world," Johnson told a West Palm Beach court. "I took the life of an innocent 13-year-old boy in the most heinous and cowardly way possible."
Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo has denied the request of Johnson's camp to give him 40 years in prison for killing Sierra.
Caracuzzo said she does not believe rehabilitation is likely because of Johnson's willingness to kill for radical views. The jurors found Johnson guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder last November.
Florida Suspect Sentenced to Life Behind Bars
According to prosecutors, Corey Johnson stabbed Jovanni Sierra during the victim's birthday sleepover at his best friend's home at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens on March 12, 2018.
Johnson, who was 17 at the time, was allegedly offended by Sierra's remark about his newly pronounced Muslim faith. The prosecutors said the Florida man also stabbed Elaine Simon, who owned the home, and Dane Bancroft, her younger son, who was the victim's best friend.
The suspect met Sierra for the first time at the birthday party. According to authorities, he was with his friend Kyle Bancroft, Dane's older brother, who had been friends since day care.
The stabbings reportedly started after everyone had gone to bed, prosecutors said. Records showed that Johnson hid in a closet after the attacks and was eventually subdued by police using tear gas.
Johnson, whose online activity had caught the FBI's attention, had done "unspeakable damage," the defense attorneys admitted.
However, they said the young Florida man had become "psychotic and delusional" due to severe depression, prescription medications like Zoloft, and watching ISIS videos.
The defense attorneys asked the jury to find him not guilty by reason of insanity.
The suspect's mom, Jennifer Johnson, said her son had become extremely unhappy before the stabbing attacks, dropping out of high school and ending his online relationship with a girl.
Florida Man Corey Johnson Mentally Ill?
After reviewing hundreds of documents and video interviews, Dr. Michael Scott told the court Thursday that Corey Johnson has above-average intelligence but delayed maturity, autism, and serious mental illness.
According to Palm Beach Post, Johnson's troubles surfaced years before the stabbing attacks while a student at Independence Middle School in Jupiter. Students reported the suspect stalking them on social media and engaging in odd behavior, which soon led to online threats and drew the FBI's attention by the time he reached high school.
In 2016, Johnson was suspected of sending a threat to a Catholic high school in England, which prompted nearly 100 parents to pull their children from classes.
Speaking at the sentencing hearing, Sierra's mom and grandmother asked the judge to sentence Johnson to life in prison.
Karen Sierra Velez, Sierra's mom, said the March 12, 2018 incident was the worst day of her life.
After the sentencing, she said she was trying to forgive everyone and continued to stay strong for her son, who would have turned 17 this year.
This article is owned by Latin Post.
Written by: Jess Smith
WATCH: Corey Johnson Sentenced to Life in Prison - From WPBF 25 News
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