Court Cases I WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

[UPDATE] Mississippi Man Sentenced for 1988 Perry Murder

By: Garin Flowers Email
By: Garin Flowers Email

[UPDATE] March 20, 2012 -

Kenneth Knight was sentenced to 23 years for the 1988 murder of Sandra Espinoza.

Originally charged with first degree murder, the court accepted a plea bargain back on February 24, 2012 in which Knight agreed to plea guilty to a lesser charge of 2nd degree murder.

As part of the plea bargain, Knight will not be on probation when he is released from prison.
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Captain Ron Rice was in law enforcement for four years when investigators found the body of Sandra Espinoza. She was a 22-year-old from Indiana.

The cause of her death was murder, but for decades no one knew who did it.

"It's cold, no feeling, no remorse, no anything," said Rice about the suspect.

Rice - now with the Sheriff's Office in Taylor County - decided to re-open the cold case in 2004. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement performed DNA tests with new technology . The tests linked a man named Kenneth Knight to the murder.

So in 2008, deputies finally had a solid case.

Knight was a truck driver. That's what brought him to Perry. Deputies say Knight tossed Espinoza's body in a ditch at a Perry rest stop off of U.S. 27. They found her body on February 18, 1988

Knight is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Captain Rice traveled there in 2009 and found him.

"FDLE Agent Annie White and I drove to Mississippi and worked with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations," Rice said.

"We secured arrests warrants locally and a search warrant in Mississippi and went to his [Knight's] house."

Rice and the FDLE agent visited Espinoza's family right before the arrest to tell them they found their guy.

"At the time of her death she had an infant daughter and we were actually able to speak with that daughter who is since married and has a child of her own," Rice said.

On Friday, Knight plead guilty to 2nd degree murder.


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