INVERNESS - The Homosassa man convicted of the Christmas-day murder of a Brooksville teenager has been sentenced to life in prison.
Judge Ric Howard sentenced Byron Lee Boutin, 42, to the life term Thursday. Florida does not have parole for life sentences.
Boutin and his girlfriend Crystal Brinson, 36, of Brooksville were both charged with first-degree murder in the death of DeAnna Stires, 18, around Christmas of 2012. Brinson's case is still pending, but Boutin was convicted after a four-day trial a month ago.
Boutin and Brinson are accused of overdosing Stires with morphine - the official cause of death - and dumping her body in a hunting area in Levy County.
Stires was reported missing on New Year's Day to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Her body was found Jan. 18 in a wooded area off State Road 24 in the Levy County community of Otter Creek.
Two hunters found Stires' body wrapped in black fabric near a dirt road in the hunting area.
The medical examiner characterized her death as "acute morphine intoxication." The prosecutor, Pete Magrino, said during the trial he believed Boutin and Brinson killed Stires after becoming furious with her for stealing methamphetamines worth about $1,800 from them. They then hatched a plan to dispose of her body.
It took the jury of five women and seven men three-and-a-half hours to return a guilty verdict, but for second-degree murder.
The prosecution was seeking the death penalty with the first-degree murder charge.
The defense team of Charles Vaughn and Cliff Travis - using Boutin's own police interview audio - tried to portray him as a victim of circumstance. Vaughn said Boutin and Brinson were trying to calm down a disruptive, drug-crazed teen when Brinson administered the fatal dose of morphine to Stires. They argued that the morphine was brought on Christmas Day to Boutin's Homosassa home by a man who was to have sex with Stires in exchange for the drug. The prosecution, however, countered by presenting the man on the stand, who refuted the allegations.
The plan, Vaughn said, was to have Stires dress up like a male to entertain the man. The defense also blamed all the lethal handiwork of the murder on Brinson, who they claim not only administered the fatal dose of morphine, but also pistol-whipped Stires about the head, causing several injuries.
Brinson was also identified as the person who gagged Stires and helped restrain her in Boutin's father's garage in Brooksville. Stires reportedly died while restrained on a lounger in the garage. The couple then reportedly drove around for two days attending to their daily business with Stires' corpse in the trunk of Boutin's car before disposing of her body in remote Levy County.