Suspect gets life in prison for Plant City gas station murder

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Not long after Xavier Smith and his accomplice were involved in a fatal robbery, prosecutors say, Smith began confessing all of it to police

During the police interrogation played for the jury, Smith told detectives he and co-defendant Al'kwaun Dixon needed money and wanted to rob someone.  So they headed to the Mobil gas station in Plant City and came across Joshua Sands pumping gas.

“He took my wallet and asked if I had any cash. I said 'no' he handed it back and said, ‘Don’t call the cops,’" recalled Sands.

Prosecutors say the two then targeted Bonnie and Michael Beson. Michael was pumping gas when Smith pointed a gun at him and demanded his wallet.

Dixon was trying to take Bonnie's purse, but she would not give it up. "I was looking right in the face when he pulled the trigger and killed him," sobbed Bonnie.

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Gas station clerk Jonathan Jones saw the commotion and rushed outside to try to help but it was too late, "All I remember next is hearing 'I'm getting robbed' and I hear a boom.”

But Hillsborough public defender Theda James insisted Smith was not the shooter that night -- Dixon was.  They pointed out Smith was trying to urge Dixon to leave.

"Xavier Smith did everything he could to prevent the death of Michael Beson. He confronted his co-defendant not once but twice and that co-defendant chose to execute Michael Beson," insisted James.

But Early Friday afternoon, Smith was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

His co-defendant, Al’Kwaun Dixon, goes to trial next week.