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Man, 18, sentenced to life for slaying

He, with two others, killed a man during a home invasion, investigators say.

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000

LARGO -- A teenager convicted last month of first-degree murder for the shooting death of a Honduran tile setter in St. Petersburg was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.

Xavier J. Love, 18, was sentenced to life without parole by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley for the April 26, 1999, slaying of Juan Jose Gonzalez in a home invasion robbery off 34th Street S.

Love told detectives that he had just gotten off work at Burger King and his friends picked him up. He said he saw Marquise Jenkins attack Gonzalez, and then Jenkins, he said, asked him to help.

But Love did not participate, he told detectives. He just stood there and looked. He said that during the struggle, the gun fired. Jenkins, 19, also has been charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting trial.

Love said he did not get back in the car with his friends. Instead, he said, he started walking home, and his father picked him up.

But the 12-member jury convicted him in less than three hours. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. So life was the only sentence the judge could impose.

A third defendant, D'eandrea Sanders, 22, already had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and been sentenced to 25 years in prison for participating.

Past coverage

Two teens charged in April murder case (July 3, 1999)

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