State concludes 31-year-old murder mystery

400-William-Warren-BrowningThe prosecution in the brutal murder of Ralph Whittemore, that occurred December 11-12, 1981 in St Johns County, has come to a conclusion today; according to information obtained by Historic City News from the office of State Attorney R. J. Larizza.

His killer, 56-year-old William Warren Browning was sentenced to life in prison today by Seventh Circuit Judge Michael Traynor. Under Homicide Statute sentencing in effect when the murder was committed, Browning must serve a twenty-five-year mandatory term.

“This case demonstrates why we should never abandon our efforts to solve cold cases, no matter how old,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza told local reporters.

For 31-years, Whittemore murder sat cold. The mystery was solved last year when it was determined that possible DNA evidence existed that could potentially be evaluated. The victim was bludgeoned to death and the killer went through his pants pockets. DNA testing of the pockets resulted in a match to a DNA sample of William Warren Browning.

Browning entered a plea of “no contest” to the first-degree murder, today; according to a statement from Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis, who prosecuted the case.

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