Sentenced to life in prison as a teenager, Floyd Victor LaFountain became a free man on Friday, thanks to a series of Supreme Court decisions regarding sentencing of juveniles.
LaFountain was sixteen when he ran away from his home in central Massachusetts. Accompanied by friends sixteen-year-old Kyle Moran and fifteen-year-old Michael DuPuis, the group stole a car, burglarized a home in Vermont for firearms, and made their way down the Atlantic coast.
Their cash got them as far as Tampa, where they drank and partied for three days before running out of money. Needing an infusion of funds to get them back home, the trio decided that the best way to obtain cash was by stealing it.
The three identified a victim and, on Tuesday, June 7, 1994, they broke into the Palmetto Beach home of septuagenarian Manuel Huerta. When Huerta drew a knife, Moran allegedly leveled a .22 rifle at his head and shot him dead.
Each of the three was charged with murder. DuPuis testified against Moran and LaFountain – he was sentenced to twenty years, while the other two were given life sentences. DuPuis served just shy of fourteen of those years and was released in 2009.
That’s how things stood until last year, when the top federal and state courts took up the question of juveniles sentenced to life in prison. Finding that such sentences were unconstitutional, the door was opened for a resentencing, which occurred on Wednesday last week.
Standing before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe, LaFountain expressed remorse for the crime in which he had been involved. He says he has regretted his action every day since the day the crime occurred. Both the prosecution and the judge agreed – LaFountain has paid for his crime.
Resentenced to time served plus fifteen years probation, LaFountain left the Hillsborough County Jail on Friday for a state re-entry center, then on to a privately-funded halfway house to learn to live on the outside, a place he hasn’t experienced in over two decades.
Kyle Moran continues to serve his life sentence at Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Milton. He will turn 39 in two weeks.