murder in St. Augustine | News
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A St. Johns County man was convicted Friday for killing a man in the parking lot of a St. Augustine pub in 2011.
Paul Gerald Crookshank, 29, was shot at point blank range in the head by Christopher Fries outside the Giggling Gator. Fries now faces mandatory life in prison.
A St. Johns County jury deliberated an hour and a half before finding Fries, 43, guilty of first degree murder, a capital felony.
According to court documents, an employee of a neighboring business heard the two men arguing and saw Fries pull out a revolver, pointed the gun up against the victim's chin and threatened to kill Crookshank. The witness also said Crookshank had his hands up in the air and Fries had him pinned up against a fence. The employee then went back inside to call 911.
When the responding officer arrived, he heard "I'm going to (expletive) kill you!" then a gunshot. The officer approached, according to testimony, and saw the victim on the ground with Fries kneeled over him still holding the gun. When Fries saw the officer, he said, "He shot me," but Fries had no gunshot wound.
Fries' defense attorney said Fries was attacked by Crookshank and that the gun went off accidentally, according to the Florida Times-Union.
The bullet that killed Crookshank traveled from behind his left ear and out through the other side of his skull. Evidence will show that there was only one bullet, prosecutor Jacquelyn Roys said during opening statements, the TU reported.
Fries will be sentenced March 4.
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