Defendant must serve minimum/mandatory 25 years
A woman who initially claimed her boyfriend shot himself in the head before admitting she
pulled the trigger, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford
Nicole Marie Harris, 38, pled guilty as charged Friday to Second-Degree Murder with a Firearm in the Jan. 20 shooting death of her 31-year-old boyfriend, Vivian George Smith, in his Panama City Beach home.
Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register accepted Harris’ sentence of 40 years in prison, the first 25 of which are minimum-mandatory under Florida’s 10-20-Life law involving the use of a firearm in a crime.
Prosecutor Peter Overstreet was prepared to prove at trial that the defendant shot the victim once in the head on Jan. 20 as they sat on his couch. The defendant initially told Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators that the victim shot himself. Eventually she admitted that she and the victim had been arguing and she fired the shot after the victim had fallen asleep.
At sentencing, Overstreet read a prepared statement from the victim’s son, who wrote that
because of the defendant’s actions he lost a part of himself when his father died.
“Because of you, I cry myself to sleep every night and I have become a very sad and depressed child,” he said in his statement. “I hurt so bad and nothing can ever make that pain go away.”
Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for their work in determining what happened that night.
For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at [email protected], or call 850-381-7454.