Killer of 3 in 1998 Thanksgiving robbery gets life in prison

In West Palm Beach, a man whose death sentence was vacated by the state Supreme Court has been sentenced to life in prison, 5 years after he pleaded guilty to the slayings of three people during a Thanksgiving Day robbery.

Thomas Thibault was sentenced Monday after prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty again.

"He told the truth from the beginning and gave these families some sense of truth about what took place with their children and loved ones," Assistant State Attorney Terri Skiles said.

Defense attorney James Eisenberg said, "This was justice, true justice." Thibault, 30, was condemned in September 2001 for the murders of Bryan Harrison, 21, Charlotte Kenyon, 26, and Daniel Ketchum, 27.

Thibault, then a house painter, executed the 3 victims after holding them hostage during a 1998 robbery.

Thibault declined a plea offer to get a life sentence in return for his testimony against another man charged in the crime, but later pleaded guilty without a guaranteed sentence.

The Florida Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in 2003, citing a 1974 ruling that a convicted killer who faces the death sentence can waive the right to a jury sentencing but the record of the case must show that the defendant opted to be sentenced by the judge alone. If the record is silent, the death sentence will not be upheld on appeal.

(source: Associated Press)