PINELLAS CO., Florida - Is Nicholas Lindsey a cold-blooded killer who deserves to die in prison, or is the teenager just a kid that panicked and can he be rehabilitated?
In coming days, those are the questions that Judge Thane Covert will be weighing.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling forced a hearing for Lindsey Monday, so that Covert can reconsider Lindsey's sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Lindsey was convicted of gunning down St. Pete Officer David Crawford. During Monday's hearing, State Attorney Bernie McCabe called the murder cold-blooded, an extreme crime that merits life in prison, even for a teenager.
"This was not some impulse. This was pulling the trigger five times," McCabe said while urging the judge to maintain the life sentence.
But defense attorneys argued that Lindsey, just 16 on that bloody night, is still a child whose brain is still developing. Assistant Public Defender Stacey Schroeder suggested a 25-year sentence as being more appropriate. "He can be rehabilitated," she told the judge.
Lindsey's great-uncle, Joe Lindsey, also talked of second chances from the witness stand. "I think we should do everything we can to try and save lives. Don't just throw lives away," he said, after offering condolences to Crawford's family.
But in prepared statements, Crawford's family and friends emphasized that their loved one didn't get a second chance and they pleaded for a sentence of life behind bars.
"I hope you live to be a very old man, and every single day that you are locked away you can think of the choices you made that night," said Crawford's partner Stu Crisco, who has since retired from the force.
Crawford's daughter, Amanda, told the judge she still finds herself texting her dad's phone when she needs advice. "I just want the peace of mind to know that I'll never have to walk on the streets and come across my father's killer as a free man on the same sidewalk."
Judge Covert is expected to re-sentence Lindsey on October 11th.