Man gets life in prison for Celebration's first murder

Man gets life in prison for Celebration's first murder

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David Murillo arrives in Osceola County circuit court Thursday, January 24, 2012. (Photo by Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel) David Murillo arrives in Osceola County circuit court Thursday, January 24, 2012. (Photo by Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel)

A man convicted of killing another man with an ax and shoelace in Celebration's first murder was sentenced to life in prison Friday.

David Murillo will spend the rest of his life in prison for the first murder in the history of the Disney-planned community.

Matteo Giovanditto suffered a terrifying and painful death, the judge told Murillo.

"Your hands were around his neck and you took his life, and I found that frightening," the judge said as he sentenced Murillo to life in prison. The defense had requested a sentence of about 20 years.

The killing happened during Thanksgiving weekend 2010 in a Celebration condominium.

In January, Murillo was convicted of hitting Giovanditto in the back of his head three times with an axe, hitting his head on the floor and going back to strangle him with a shoe lace.

On Friday afternoon, Giovanditto's family did not testify before the sentencing, but Giovanditto's close friend did.

"Mr. Murillo had a choice. He could have walked out the door, and he didn't. He chose to murder Matt with rage, with malice and with no regard for human life," Melissa McClain said.

Murillo claimed he was enraged after Giovanditto tried to grope him. But in court Friday, he expressed remorse.

"First, I would like to apologize to the family and for causing so much pain," Murillo said. "I know no matter what I say, it's not going to take it away."

Giovanditto's family and the prosecutor had no comment.  

The judge said he was influenced by the fact that Murillo went back to the scene to finish off his victim by strangling him with a shoelace.

"Apparently, that did influence the judge's decision quite a bit," defense attorney Mike Nielsen said. "He actually had some of his quotes there on the sentencing day from the trial, so that tells me that did have quite a bit of influence on the judge."

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