Reginald Riggins sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Shawn Turk in Lakeland

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) -- A man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday for killing a woman and leaving her body outside an Amtrak station in downtown Lakeland.

As part of a deal with Polk County prosecutors, 35-year-old Reginald Riggins pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was initially charged with first-degree murder, which would have brought a minimum life sentence.

During his hearing, Riggins told Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen that he was sorry for the pain that he caused.

"I would like to apologize for my actions, sir," Riggins told the judge.

Riggins was arrested in August 2011 after his father told police Riggins might be involved with the April 2009 slaying of Shawn Turk, 33. Riggins told detectives in a recorded statement that he and Turk struck a deal that she would have sex with him for some crack cocaine and about $20. When she refused to have sex, he said he choked her until she was unconscious, put a shirt into her mouth and shoved it down her throat with a stick. A person waiting to board a train found her body on April 15, 2009. She died from asphyxia.

Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo said he was willing to make a deal with Riggins because the man made his confession after asking to speak with a lawyer. He only spoke with detectives after his father convinced him to do so.

"It's my legal opinion that statement would have been properly suppressed by the court," Castillo said.

And since there was no physical evidence, prosecutors would be left with only some admissions that Riggins made to his father.

The Ledger (http://goo.gl/GAtQO ) reports that Riggins still faces charges related to the death of Ellerine Williams in Fort Myers. Authorities say Riggins fatally assaulted the 60-year-old woman in June 2011 with two steak knives, a hammer and a kitchen pot. Riggins indicated Tuesday that he believes Lee County prosecutors will agree to a concurrent 25-year prison sentence, but they are not bound by the Polk County deal.


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