Courtney Wilkes' Killer to be Sentenced Thursday - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

UPDATE: Courtney Wilkes' Killer Sentenced to Death

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Steven Cozzie Steven Cozzie
Steven Cozzie Steven Cozzie
Courtney Wilkes Courtney Wilkes

A Florida man convicted in the 2011 murder of a Toombs County teen was sentenced to death Thursday afternoon according to the Walton County Florida clerk of courts.

Steven Anthony Cozzie was found guilty of first-degree Premeditated Murder this past June for killing 15 year old Courtney Wilkes.

Prosecutors said that Cozzie lured the teen away from her family while they vacationed in Seagrove Beach in June 2011.

He then used his shirt to strangle Wilkes and then dragged her limp body into a swamp where he raped and then beat her to death.

In closing arguments, Steven Cozzie's attorney conceded that his client killed Wilkes in an attempt to get a second degree murder conviction -- which would have taken the death penalty off the table.

But the jury took less than two hours to find him guilty of first-degree Premeditated Murder, Sexual Battery, Aggravated Child Abuse and Kidnapping.

They later recommended that he be sentenced to death.

"We feel vindicated. We feel like this is the penalty he should have gotten. It doesn't change our circumstances, but we're relieved, relieved to have it over," said Courtney's mother,Toni Wilkes, at the time.

Cozzie's fate now lies in the hands of a Walton County, Florida judge who will hand down his sentence at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Wilkes was from Lyons and would have been a junior at Toombs County High School that fall.

A scholarship, The Courtney Wilkes Memorial Agriculture and Veterinary Scholarship, was established in his honor by Vidalia Onion farmers.

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