Man avoids death penalty in girlfriend's fatal stabbing in Palm Beach County

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A South Florida man has escaped a possible death sentence with jurors agreeing that his girlfriend's fatal stabbing wasn't premeditated.

News outlets report that 28-year-old John Chapman of Miami was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder. Prosecutors had been arguing for a first-degree murder conviction and seeking the death penalty. Chapman still faces up to life in prison.

Authorities say Chapman stabbed 28-year-old Vanessa Williams more than 20 times inside a pickup truck parked at a west Boca Raton apartment complex in April 2015. He then dumped the body and knife in a ditch west of Delray Beach.

Chapman testified that he was acting in self-defense and that Williams had tried to stab him first. The confrontation followed several days of drinking and drug use.

Chapman and Williams had a son together.

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