TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors said they will not seek the death penalty against a former neo-Nazi accused of killing two of his roommates.
The decision was announced without explanation during a hearing on Thursday in the case of 18-year-old Devon Arthurs, who faces two counts of first-degree murder, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
Arthurs took people hostage in a Tampa-area smoke shop in May, then led police to the bodies of his two roommates in an apartment they shared.
He told police he killed Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, because they had disrespected his recent conversion to Islam.
Arthurs later told detectives the men were members of a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division who were planning bombings.
A fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, faces federal explosives charges after investigators found the high volatile explosive HMTD and bomb-making materials, as well as a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, in the apartment.
Russell has denied any plans to make a bomb, as Arthurs claimed, saying the materials were used to boost model rockets.
Oneschuk’s father, Walter Oneschuk, said he accepts prosecutors’ decision and would be satisfied if Arthurs ultimately is sentenced to life in prison.
“Personally, I don’t care if he gets the death penalty. It’s not going to change anything with Andrew,” he said.
The police report stated that Arthurs was armed with a semiautomatic handgun that he removed from his waistband when he arrived at the store.
“Do me a favor and get the f—- on the ground!” Arthurs yelled to a female employee and male customer, according to the report. “Why shouldn’t I kill you?”
“He…informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries,” police detective Kenneth Nightlinger said in the report.