Horowitz: Florida man accused of murdering 3 best friends on fishing trip had 230 prior felony charges

· July 24, 2020  
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Handcuffs on top of a fingerprint form.
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Despite the emptying of prisons and rising crime in America’s major cities, Jared Kushner, possibly the most influential man in the White House, continues to demand “second chances” for criminals. But anyone who understands our criminal justice system knows that, with rare exceptions, violent criminals are accorded endless chances and are still not locked up. Here is a case of a man who was given 230 chances. The result? Three best friends weren’t given a second chance at life.

Frostproof, Florida, is a tiny city of 3,000 people in lake-filled Polk County, Florida. The last thing Sheriff Grady Judd expected to deal with on July 17 was a triple homicide. But on Wednesday, after the shock had worn off and the details were gathered, Sheriff Judd constructed the timeline of the alleged murder at a press conference.

Damion Tillman, Keven Springfield, and Brandon Rollins, three good friends, were going on a fishing trip to a nearby lake when Tillman stopped by the local Dollar General to pick up some items. Based on interviews with the cashier and video from the store’s closed-circuit cameras, the sheriff believes that the prime suspect, Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, found out from Tillman, in what appears to have been a benign conversation, that Keven Springfield would be with the group on the fishing trip. Wiggins evidently had a grudge against Springfield for a dispute over a truck, although the sheriff’s office is still investigating whether this was the motive.

According to the sheriff’s statement, Wiggins then got into his truck with his brother, William “Robert” Wiggins, 21, and girlfriend, Mary Whittemore, 27, and followed Tillman to the lake, where he found him and the other two victims. He allegedly singled out Springfield first and beat and shot him, then proceeded to shoot and kill the other two friends. According to the sheriff, the girlfriend help purchase ammunition. Police later found ammunition casings in their off-the-grid residence that matched with the gun that was used in the triple homicide, recovered the night of the shooting

Tony Wiggins was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. His brother, Robert, was charged with tampering with evidence and accessory after the fact of capital felony. The girlfriend, Mary Whittemore was charged with accessory after the fact too.

Why would someone possibly kill a man possibly over a truck dispute and then kill his two friends who were at the wrong place at the wrong time?

Very simple explanation: This is how career violent criminals work. They don’t follow logic or morals. According to the sheriff, TJ had 230 felonies with 15 convictions. He had served time – but not much – for crimes including several armed burglary charges, weapons charges, and assault and battery charges, some of which were against elderly people and police officers. His first arrest was at 12 years old! And he accrued all those charges over just a 14-year period, even though he was behind bars for at least four years.

This is the true criminal justice reform that the blood of thousands of innocent victims is crying out for. Most murders in this country are committed by repeat violent offenders. Why don’t we have a real “three strikes and you’re out” law? Why are all the “reforms” designed to release these people from jail rather than locking them up? Why do politicians incessantly virtue-signal about second chances for criminals when they already get an unlimited number, while victims never get a second chance?

“TG is someone whose criminal history should shock your conscience,” Sheriff Judd lamented at the Wednesday morning press conference.

From what I can find of Florida court records, it looks like Wiggins’ last arrest was in March for assaulting an elderly person by breaking his arm with a tire iron. How someone with that record could still be out on the streets after being arrested for an assault is shocking, but it is the rule, not the exception in our system. He was let out on just $6,000 bond. His pretrial hearing was scheduled for July 30.

It’s time for a national discussion about repeat violent offenders in terms of increasing prison time, limiting bail, and pouring more money into the court systems to expedite trials. We must also end the practice of expunging criminal records of juveniles with violent crime charges. Juveniles who commit multiple violent crimes are ticking time bombs, and that needs to be factored in when they are arrested again as adults. Wiggins had 10 arrests as a juvenile.

Only in our corrupt political system can cruel politicians assert we have an over-incarceration problem when in fact we have an under-incarceration problem.

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.