Shawn Whigham has convicted of the 2021 murder of a 73-year-old Fernandina Beach pet sitter Wednesday.
Whigham pleads no contest as part of a plea deal to three charges, including 2nd-degree murder.
73-year-old Colleen Potts was found shot to death in the home where she was pet-sitting in October of 2021.
Two months later, Fernandina Police arrested Whigham, whose documents show lived two doors down from the home Potts was found.
Police claimed Whigham confessed to shooting Potts and stealing around $300 from her purse.
Prosecutors pursued three charges including 1st-degree murder, armed burglary and armed burglary with assault or battery.
Whigham also faced a separate charge for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Whigham pleads no contest to three charges.
The judge accepted the plea, sentencing Whigham to 15 years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, 20 years for 2nd-degree murder, and 20 years for armed Burglary with assault or battery.
The sentences will be served concurrently minus the 406 days Whigham has already served.
Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson explained the deal was likely struck due to the lack of physical evidence pointing to Whigham.
“It is easier to secure a second-degree prosecution for murder than it is a first-degree murder and that’s not unusual to make deals like this because as you’ve reported the evidence here is sparse,” said Carson.
Whigham faced life in prison and even potentially the death penalty for his first-degree murder charge.
As a result of the plea, he will serve a little over 19 years.
But at least one person left the courtroom believing the wrong person is going to prison - Whigham’s brother, Granzie Whigham.
“None of the evidence pointed against him and for them to give him that much time is ridiculous, but as I said, God’s got a plan and Fernandina, be safe out there because the murderer’s still out there,” said Granzie.
Fernandina Police Department released a statement after the sentence.
“Although this will not alleviate the anguish felt by the Potts family, we sincerely hope that it provides them with a sense of closure,” said an FPD spokesperson.
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