TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Tampa Bay area shoplifter has been sentenced to five years in prison because a security guard suffered a fatal heart attack while trying to stop the crime.
As part of a deal with Hillsborough County prosecutors, 36-year-old Mervin Bettis pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree murder. He could have received up to 30 years in prison.
Authorities say Bettis tried to steal about $1,100 worth of razor blade cartridges from a Tampa Target in May 2011. Two security guards struggled with Bettis as he tried to flee. Minutes after handcuffing Bettis, one of the guards - 65-year-old Russell Horner - collapsed and later died.
Florida law says a person can be charged with felony murder if a death occurs during the commission of certain felonies.
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