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August 3, 2005
Leesburg-- Former Lee County Sheriff's deputy Donnie Spillers fired the bullet that killed 17-year old Wesley Beaver back in February. Investigators say Spillers then planted a knife in the teen's truck and lied to investigators about what happened.
He was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors including involuntary manslaughter. Wednesday, he plead not guilty to the charges.
Wesley Beaver's family members filled the Lee County courtroom during the arraignment. Although they admit being hurt by the not guilty plea, they say they're glad the case will finally go to trial.
The Beaver family is having a hard time coping with the loss of 17-year old Wesley Beaver. "We had to try to learn just to make it through the days. Our hearts are still broke. Somebody that you have in your life and in your house everyday for 17 years that you take care of it's doesn't just go away," says Wesley Beaver's father, Rodger Beaver.
And neither does the hurt Rodger Beaver says he feels when he thinks about how his son died. "The whole thing is just bizarre. The way it happened it just don't add up. The way all this happened in a matter of seconds it's hard for me to believe that anybody could see this as involuntary," Beaver says.
Former Lee County deputy Donnie Spillers never entered the courtroom. Patrick Eidson, his lawyer actually made the announcement that his client was pleading not guilty to misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence, and making a false statement and violation of his oath of office, both felonies.
"They just have to appear at the courthouse and that's required. In fact, some defendants here today completely waived arraignment and did not show up at all," Eidson says.
Spillers will now go to trial. His lawyer is certain the outcome will be in his client's favor. "I said from the very beginning I think Donnie will be exonerated from this case," says Eidson.
But the Beaver family is also trying to remain optimistic, not just about their situation but also about the future relationship between law enforcers and Lee County residents. "We hope that the citizens of Lee County and any other county all will be able to put trust in their officers and actually have support from the officers, rather than being harassed," says Beaver.
Family members also say they are in the process of developing a web page where citizens can post tips and stories about what they believe to be abuse by the Lee County law enforcers.
Spillers' lawyer says he expected the trial to be scheduled for the October term of court.