The Florida-Times Union
December 23, 2013
An Atlantic Beach man has been sentenced to life in prison for a second time after being convicted of a 2006 Mayport murder that followed an argument about the victim’s swastika tattoo and racial comments.
Benjamin Lee Washington, 31, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Tatiana Salvador on Friday for the murder of Chad David Henderson, 19. A jury convicted Washington of second-degree murder in October.
Henderson was shot and killed during a tattoo party at Mayport Trace apartments. Witnesses said Washington questioned Henderson about a swastika tattoo on his leg and they discussed Henderson’s views that minority races should be bred out. Then Washington shot him in the back.
Washington was convicted of the same crime in 2007 and sentenced to life without parole by Circuit Judge John Merrett. The 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and found that Merrett had improperly instructed the jury on the lesser offense of manslaughter, which the jury could consider instead of second-degree murder.
Friday prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that under current Florida law Salvador has no choice but to sentence Washington to life without parole. Washington previously did time for an armed robbery in Pennsylvania. Because he’d previously committed a crime with a gun, Florida law mandated that he get life.