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Billings Home Invasion Murders: Wayne Coldiron Gets Life in Prison for Slaying Fla. Couple

Byrd and Melanie Billings Murder Trial: Leader In Fla. Couple's Killing Faces Execution
Byrd and Melanie Billings with their Children (Pensacola News Journal)

PENSACOLA, Fla. (CBS/WKRG/AP) Wayne Coldiron, one of the seven men accused of the brutal home invasion murders of a wealthy Florida Panhandle couple with nine special needs children, has been sentenced to life in prison.

An Escambia County judge sentenced Coldiron to two life terms Friday after a jury found him guilty of slaying Byrd and Melanie Billings during the July 9, 2009 attack.

Coldiron is the second man to stand trial for the 2009 murders of the Florida couple who raised 16 children in all, 12 of whom were special needs children they had adopted, in their home in Beulah, Fla.

Nine of the Billings children were in the house the night the gunmen, dressed in all black, broke into the house in a robbery "designed with maximum shock and awe," Assistant State Attorney John Molchan told the jury Tuesday, according to CBS affiliate WKRG.

None of the children were physically harmed.

Coldiron's attorneys argued that their client was an unwilling participant and that he feared the "mastermind," Patrick Gonzalez, Jr., would kill him if he did not follow through with the robbery.

The station reports that an Escambia County Circuit Court judge will decided on February 17 if Gonzalez, who was convicted of capital murder in October, should be sentenced to death.

Rakeem Florence, 18, and Frederick Thornton, 20, were allowed to enter pleas to lesser charges of second-degree murder in exchange for their testimony against their alleged co-conspirators, reports WKRG.

Donnie Stallworth, 29, the fifth person accused of entering the house, is scheduled for trial on first degree murder charges on February 28. Gary Sumner and Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Sr., who investigators believe were the getaway drivers, still face trial.


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