Convicted killer of 2 Columbus State students sentenced to life - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Convicted killer of 2 Columbus State students sentenced to life

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

It's an abrupt conclusion to a murder case following nearly six years of battling through the courts.

In return for pleading guilty to the murder of two Columbus State University students, Michael Registe is sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.  This is a much better alternative for Registe than risking two consecutive life sentences with additional penalties for the other charges.

This is a case that has received international attention when the now convicted killer, Michael Registe, fled the country to the Caribbean and was featured on America's Most Wanted after the execution-style killing of Randy Newton Jr. and Bryan Kilgore.

 The shooting occurred in July 2007 on Steam Mill Road while the two victims were involved in a drug transaction with Registe inside a Chevy Blazer. 

Registe was tracked down with the help of witness testimony and cell phone records.

The case reached the Supreme Court twice before meeting its end on Friday.

Registe's attorney believes his client would have been found innocent by technicality had the crime been anything less serious than murder.

"It's a very serious homicide, so most elected officials are not going to say, ‘technically he was wrong or right.'  I think the end, unfortunately, came very quickly after the Supreme Court decision.  It would have been a very severe sentence compared to where we are.  It's not what I like, but there's really no other option in our state on the murder charges.  It's life or life," said criminal defense attorney, Manny Arora.

Due to the unique circumstances of Registe's apprehension in the Dutch-controlled Caribbean Islands, the death penalty was never on the table.  Part of the terms of extradition were to limit the punishment to life in prison.

It's very possible that Registe will be up for parole in less than 30 years once time-served is calculated.  The courts have yet to decide how much time to subtract because some of the incarceration occurred outside the country.

Kilgore's father addressed Registe in the courtroom and recounted the night when he was awoken by a call from the hospital, telling him his son was badly hurt and may not live.  A short time later, Kilgore was declared legally dead when his brain stopped functioning.  Kilgore's father expressed that he considers Registe's parents the additional victims of this tragedy because, they too, must live with the crime their son committed.

Randy Newton's aunt spoke her gratitude for the closure this agreement brings after six years of waiting.

"I just thank God that this day is over.  I thank everybody for their support and for being there with us.  I think justice has been done, but it took a long time.  Randy was a very loving, kind young man.  He had just turned 21 and he just had a short life that ended quickly.  He would have been a professional basketball player by now," said Mary Ingram.

Registe was given an opportunity to address the victims' families in the courtroom and his final words to them were, "I'm very sorry for what I've done and I hope that someday you will forgive me."

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