A Hillsborough County jury delivered a guilty verdict in the trial of a Tampa man who prosecutors allege killed another man based upon his accusations of theft.
The jury wasted little time in deliberating prior to telling Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella of their unanimous verdict of guilt in the murder trial of David Alexander Brunson last week. Brunson, now 20, was convicted on charges resulting from the county’s allegation that he killed Eion Gustitis in September, 2015.
According to prosecutors, Gustitis accused Brunson of stealing his cellphone and a quantity of cannabis in the course of a Labor Day party. Though ultimately proving to be false, prosecutors say the allegations drove Brunson to seek retribution against Gustitis.
Prosecutors put on a string of witnesses who told the jury that Brunson staged a series of fake phone calls to entice Gustitis to follow him to a place outside of town where Brunson could rob and kill him. Despite Brunson testifying in his own defense that the fatal shooting was done to preserve his own life, the jury was unmoved, likely swayed by evidence put on by the prosecution that the fatal shot came from the rear and not from in front of Gustitis as testified by Brunson.
The North Carolina native now faces sentencing on a conviction of first-degree murder, which could see him receiving a prison term of between four decades and life. In the event of a life sentence, Brunson will have an automatic review of his case after serving 25 years due to the fact that he was a juvenile when the murder occurred.