published: Thursday, September 06, 2012
Altersberger death sentence upheld by court
News-Sun staff/wire reports
TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal from a man who shot and killed a highway patrol trooper more than five years ago.
The high court Thursday unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence of Joshua Lee Altersberger. He convicted of killing Sgt. Nick Sottile during a January 2007 traffic stop north of Lake Placid.
Altersberger pleaded guilty to murder and a jury recommended by a 9 to 3 vote that he receive the death penalty. His attorneys, however, argued that Sottile's murder was not cold, calculated and premeditated and did not merit a death sentence.
Justices disagreed and pointed out that Altersberger earlier in the day had threatened to shoot an officer.
Altersberger also did not shoot Sottile until the trooper took his hand off his gun.
In deciding for the death penalty, which he handed down in Bartow on June 19, 2009, Judge Michael Hunter reviewed the transcripts of witnesses Quentin Kinder, who fled Altersberger's vehicle during the traffic stop, and Peron Merise, a truck driver who had "a clear view of what happened." Hunter cited the testimony while explaining how the court came to its decision.
Kinder testified that Altersberger had told him he was going to kill the trooper before he did, and Merise testified that before he was shot, Sottile "backed up a little and had his hands up."
According to the law, the cold, calculated and premeditated aggravator must be proven by the state showing that the murder was not prompted by emotional frenzy, panic or a fit of rage, that there was a careful plan or prearranged design to commit the murder, that there was heightened premeditation, and no pretext of legal or moral justification.
"There was no testimony that the defendant had been acting in an emotional frenzy, panic or fit of rage," Hunter wrote. "According to the witness, when it appeared the trooper was comfortable, the defendant lowered his hands, produced a weapon, and shot the trooper."
He called the murder "an unnecessary, execution-type killing," and said it was "the type of killing for which this aggravating circumstance was intended."
Citing the Florida Supreme Court, Hunter said the heightened premeditation required to sustain the aggravator is one where the defendant has the opportunity to leave the scene but, instead, commits the murder.
"He could have attempted to disarm the trooper when the trooper took a step back and raised his hands," Hunter wrote. "Instead, he shot him."
Fry Him! (by: Rob Bullock - 9/9/2012)
Why are we still reading about him being alive? It has been years since he killed a highway patrol man who was loved by our community, He took this officers life in less than five minutes . I think Five years has already been too long... justice needs to be served, he was convicted, now fry him until the power goes out!!!!
Sgt. Nick Sottile (by: MeanOleMom - 9/7/2012)
There has been enough suffering for Officer Sottile's family along with our community. I don't understand, why we even keep a piece of dirt in our jail and waste tax payers money on him. He has FREE housing, food, medical, etc. etc. There was enough evidence in this case for the death penalty and to keep it going on is ludicrous. This should have been a ASAP to the chair. It cost more to keep this kid in jail, then most people make in a year. Let Officer Sottile rest in peace. Get rid of the dirt and quit sweeping it under the rug.
Nick.. (by: Mike - 9/6/2012)
Not so tuff now.. You thought you were a man when you killed my friend. Be a man now and take your medicine.
(by: Janine Jones - 9/6/2012)
I wish that the local newspapers would not use this Convicted Felons picture when doing stories on this case. By doing so you are giving him the fame that most criminals seek. It would be more fitting to use Sgt. Sottile's photo in these stories.
Altersburger (by: Dliddy - 9/6/2012)
Amputate his hands and feet and throw him in a ditch .
........ (by: Sam the black man - 9/6/2012)
If you need someone to flip the switch let me know........God Bless Nicks Family
(by: CC - 9/6/2012)
It was murder and he deserves to be held accountable for his actions. I don't believe that he should still be in jail for the 5 years - just go ahead and execute him. Five years too many.....
Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (by: Beerbelly - 9/6/2012)
Bring "Old Sparky" out of retirement, spray some non stick cooking spray on the seat and light him up. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
(by: Cheryal - 9/6/2012)
Lets hope that it gets over and done quickly. Nicks family has suffered enough. The county lost a wonderful person when we lost Nick.
(by: Me - 9/6/2012)
Can we just fry him now?
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