A Gibsonton man was sentenced to life in prison without parole today for brutally stabbing his ex-wife in her bed in 2011, as her boyfriend lay next to her.
Egan Fernando Atkins, 36, accepted a plea offer that exchanged the possibility of the death penalty, something prosecutors had aimed for, for a life prison sentence. He remained emotionless during most of the court hearing at which a few relatives and friends of the victim, Nicole Renee Williams, spoke. But he broke down when he stood to speak, weeping almost uncontrollably.
He looked at the throng of family members and friends seated in the gallery, including Williams’ parents and her three children, and said, “I hope you can forgive me because I don’t know if I can forgive myself.”
Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies arrested Atkins on July 5, 2011, charging him with first-degree murder and armed burglary of a dwelling.
Deputies said that on July 4, Atkins broke into Williams’ home, picked up a knife from her kitchen and stabbed her in her bed. Williams died at the scene.
In the home at the time were her three children and her boyfriend, who woke up to see Atkins stabbing Williams beside him.
No one else was injured in the attack.
Deputies recovered the knife outside in a flower bed and found a pair of sneakers that belonged to Atkins on the floor next to the window where he broke into the home.
A trial in the case was to have begun Monday.