Accused murderer Steven Cozzie will receive the death penalty.
That decision from Judge Kelvin Wells was read aloud in a Walton County courtroom, Thursday. For the family of victim Courtney Wilkes, who was just 15 when she died, there's bittersweet closure knowing all lives involved will never be the same.
"Accordingly it is hereby ordered and adjudged that one Steven Anthony Cozzie be sentenced to death as to count one...first degree premeditated murder or felony murder with a weapon of Courtney Wilkes," said Judge Wells.
With that, it was a proverbial bookend on a case that started one a summer day in June more than two years ago; the day that then 21 year old Cozzie took Wilkes' life.
"We lost Courtney and we started serving our sentence 2 years and 4 months ago," said Courtney's Mother, Toni Wilkes.
Wilkes remained stoic as Cozzie learned his; the death penalty for murder, life sentences for sexual battery with a weapon and kidnapping with a weapon and 30 years for aggravated child abuse. All will be served consecutively.
For Wilkes, the sentence provides relief.
"But there are no winners here today. Nobody wins…. I pray for our family, I pray for his family, but there are no winners here today," she said.
No winners, but just a desire to move forward and stay positive, finishing what Courtney started.
Judge Kelvin Wells' decision supports the recommendation of the jury, who urged Cozzie receive the death penalty in a 12 to 0 vote .during the June trial.