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Florida fishing buddies' suspected killer deserves the death penalty, victim's mother says

Written by on July 23, 2020

The suspected killer charged in the death of three fishing buddies in Florida deserves nothing short of the death penalty, the mother of one of the victims said Thursday.

Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, faces three counts of murder in the July 17 fatal shooting of Brandon Rollins, 27, and his friends Keven Springfield, 30, and 23-year-old Damion Tillman.

“The death penalty is definitely our number one priority,” said Rollins mother, Dottie Payton, WFTS-TV reported.

Authorities believe Wiggins killed the group of friends, who planned to go night fishing in Lake Streety near Frostproof, 75 miles east of Tampa, The Ledger reported.

Before heading to the lake, Tillman stopped at a Dollar General store in Frostproof, where Wiggins and his brother William, 21, were seen standing behind him in line. The pair overheard him telling the clerk he would be meeting up with Springfield, authorities said.

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Mary Whittemore, 27, William Wiggins, 21, and his 26-year-old brother Tony Wiggins have been arrested in connection with the triple murder of a group of friends who were slated to go fishing on a Florida lake earlier this month.

Mary Whittemore, 27, William Wiggins, 21, and his 26-year-old brother Tony Wiggins have been arrested in connection with the triple murder of a group of friends who were slated to go fishing on a Florida lake earlier this month. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Tony Wiggins confronted Springfield, a mechanic, and accused him of stealing his truck and selling the engine. He then opened fire on the three men, Polk County prosecutors said. Investigators have not confirmed if the accusation is true.

The elder Wiggins is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. William Wiggins is charged with three counts of being an accessory to murder and tampering with evidence. Mary Whittemore, 27, the girlfriend of Tony Wiggins, faces three counts of being an accessory to murder.

In a Wednesday news conference to announce the arrests, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tony Wiggins was “pure evil in the flesh.”

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“I didn’t stutter. He has 230 charges in his arrest history. Fifteen convictions and two times to state prison at only 26,” Judd said. “He’s a thug, he’s a criminal. He’s pure evil in the flesh. He’s wild and he’s out of control.”

“Our goal, and we pray our state attorney can seek the death penalty,” he added, according to WTVT-TV. “He needs to seek a fair trial…and then be executed. Legally, we can’t execute him the way he did those three guys trying to fish on a Friday night.”

Tony Wiggins is being held with no bond, while a judge set bond for his brother and Whittemore at $46,000 and $45,000, respectively.

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