A Tampa man who was a minor when he allegedly killed a classmate will spend the rest of his natural life in a Florida prison after a Hillsborough County jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
Tampa authorities say the problems began when David Alexander Brunson was the victim of a stolen cellphone and a small quantity of cannabis at a house party in June 2015. Brunson, who was 17 years old at the time, came to believe that the items were stolen by classmate Eion Gustitis. Unfortunately for both, the assumption was incorrect.
Operating on the assumption, Brunson allegedly devised a plan to lure Gustitis to a remote location with the offer of the sale of a .22-caliber firearm as bait. However, authorities say Brunson had no firearm on offer, and that the result of the meeting was not a gun sale, but premeditated murder.
Brunson, who hails from North Carolina, claimed that the killing was the result of an accident. His mother took the stand in his defense as well, telling the jury of Brunson’s difficult childhood, hoping to mitigate the anger directed at him.
But the arguments made in his defense failed to convince the jury, who found him guilty of the murder. As Brunson was a minor at the time of the crime for which he was convicted, the presiding judge was mandated to take into account several other mitigating factors. However, noting that Brunson’s sentence would still be reviewed in 25 years, Judge Christopher Sabella sentenced him to a term of life in prison.