VIERA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35)
Jurors have recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a former Bahamian beauty contestant who was visiting friends in central Florida in 2006.
The panel voted 10-2 on Tuesday for 37-year-old Vahtiece Kirkman's execution. He was convicted last week of first-degree murder and kidnapping for his involvement in the death of 22-year-old Darice Knowles. Judge Jeffrey Mahl read the jury's verdict, which met the exact minimum majority needed in order to recommend the death sentence for Kirkman.
Authorities say the remains of Knowles were found in a Cocoa wooded area in 2010, nearly four years after she was reported missing by her family. Prosecutors say Kirkman buried the woman alive under a mix of concrete and dirt, because he was afraid she was talking with police about his connections to another homicide.
"We're happy the jury again saw the case we did," said state prosecutor William Respess. "We're never thrilled that somebody gets a death recommendation. Our preference is that Darice Knowles be alive."
Kirkman has a final sentencing hearing before the judge for the death penalty on April 29.