CLEARWATER — A man charged with stabbing his neighbor 108 times has been found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Jeremy Brown, 24, was charged in the June 2011 stabbing death of Paul Wiggins, 48. Brown and Wiggins lived in the same Tarpon Springs mobile home park along U.S. 19. The prosecution was not seeking the death penalty in this case, the only alternative sentence for a first-degree murder in Florida.
The jury deliberated for nearly five hours Friday before announcing the verdict.
Brown, who had recently moved to the park, didn’t know Wiggins at the time of his death. However, statements made in June 2011 that Wiggins had raped Brown’s aunt, who also lived in the park, motivated Brown to kill him “for family honor,” prosecutors argued.
Wiggins received lacerations to the head, hands, neck and face and was pronounced dead in his trailer, where he was discovered by two friends. The weapon has not been found.
Several witnesses said they saw Brown the day of the killing, spinning a knife and looking serious and angry at a gathering in another mobile home. One woman said she saw Brown after she heard about Wiggins’ death, crouching near his trailer while police were in the area interviewing residents.
In closing arguments Friday, Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub asked the jury to use common sense when considering the verdict, showing them clothing found in Brown’s trailer after the incident that had traces of Wiggins’ DNA and blood.
He asked the jury to “do the right thing.”
“Paul Wiggins did not deserve what happened to him,” Schaub said.
Wiggins’ was not a man without faults, Schaub said. Several residents of the mobile home park said they didn’t like Wiggins, who often would bum beer or cigarettes from neighbors.
“(Brown) did not give Paul Wiggins the opportunity to straighten his life out,” Schaub said.