This past Thursday, November 9, 2023, a Sumter County jury delivered a verdict of guilty against 26-year-old Bacarri Justice Austell of Wildwood, for Second-Degree Murder with a firearm.
The jury ultimately found Austell possessed and discharged a firearm, resulting in the tragic death of a 16-year-old Chris’sean Williams. The incident unfolded at Royal Park, where Austell, during a video game gathering, pursued and fired four rounds at the victim, fatally striking him in the head.
“The successful verdict of this case underscores the importance of teamwork, by numerous entities, in ensuring justice is served,” said William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “I’d like to extend my office’s sincerest appreciation to the collaborative efforts of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, Sumter County Fire Rescue, Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Thank you for aiding us in our efforts to hold offenders accountable and give a voice to crime victims.”
Austell claimed he thought the victim was a person who had threatened him on a different day. In one of the many various statements he told law enforcement, Austell said he was in fear for his life and shot the victim. Despite this claim of justifiable use of deadly force, diligent work by Inspector Knight, Det. Warren, CID detectives, and the Forensic team of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) proved this claim false.
Austell’s sentencing is anticipated in mid-December. He now faces a 25-year minimum mandatory sentence, with a maximum term of life imprisonment.
The SAO’s victim witness department played a crucial role in coordinating witnesses despite the inherent challenges in cases of this nature. Special acknowledgment to Sgt. Mullins of the SCSO, as well as K9 Rio, whose keen nose led to the discovery of the murder weapon.
This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Donald “Sonny” McCathran Jr. and Daniel Geraghty thanks to their unwavering dedication.