WEST PALM BEACH — A judge has sentenced a 67-year-old Boynton Beach man to 30 years in prison in the 2016 murders of a man and woman in Lake Worth Beach.
George McCray pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Leotis Lester, 50, and Shania Copeland, 20, during a hearing before Circuit Judge Kirk Volker. McCray also pleaded guilty to charges of tampering with a witness and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
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McCray previously was charged with first-degree murder after the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office charged that he shot and killed Lester and Copeland on Aug. 5 2016, in an apparent act of jealousy. Investigators said McCray was in a relationship with Copeland and was envious of her connection to Lester.
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The shootings took place in an apartment community on Washington Avenue in Lake Worth Beach. Relatives of Copeland and Lester told The Palm Beach Post days after the murders that the two were not romantically involved, but were friends whose families had known each other for several years.
Relatives said at the time of the shooting that Lester was a father of four and a grandfather who worked in construction. Copeland was a mother, having given birth to a son about six months before the shooting, and a graduate of Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton.
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During Wednesday's plea hearing, McCray received 30-year prison sentences on the murder and tampering charges, and a 15-year sentence on the firearm possession charge, with the sentences to be served concurrently.
Volker recommended that McCray be housed at the Dade and Homestead Correctional Institution in Florida City, or another facility that has a section of their compound designated for older inmates.
McCray was credited with the 1,992 days – or five years, five months – he spent in the Palm Beach County Jail while awaiting trial.
Lester and Copeland's deaths were among 87 confirmed homicides in Palm Beach County during 2016, according to a Palm Beach Post online database. There were 10 in Lake Worth Beach that year.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Judge sentences man to 30 years in 2016 Lake Worth double murder