- By Hannah Winston Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A man who had been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2001 fatal shooting and robbery of a man in Riviera Beach when he was 17 years old has been given a new sentence.
After several hearings this year, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Laura Johnson on Monday resentenced Rogyne O’Neal to 40 years in prison, with credit for 6,363 days, or more than 17 years, that he has already served. O’Neal must serve a minimum of 25 years for the first-degree murder charge, according to records.
In two rulings in 2010 and 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison without the chance of parole, recognizing that adolescents’ minds are still developing and can be rehabilitated. In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ruled any juvenile who previously had been sentenced to life should be resentenced.
Rogyne O’Neal was 17 when he was arrested in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old D'Taurean Gibbs in March 2001. He had been with his girlfriend when he called for his sister to pick him up. Instead, his sister’s boyfriend picked him up and told him he was about rob someone, according to court records.
A jury found O’Neal, now 34, guilty in 2002 and sentenced him to life in prison.
Over the course of several hearings this year, O’Neal’s family, psychologists, several people from prison and Gibbs’ family spoke before the judge. During one hearing in June, Gibbs’ family spoke about the “loving kid” and “big teddy bear” they missed.
Timothy Wyngate, who is not Gibbs’ biological father but had raised him since he was 5, said he has forgiven O’Neal, but that he still misses Gibbs.
“The loss of my son has been tough for me, but because I am a minister of the Gospel, I believe he should be given a chance,” Wyngate said.
Gibbs’ sister, Ypreshus Goodwin, said her children never got to meet their uncle and that she still grieves for her brother to this day.
“I have a 14-year-old son who looks like him, so I see his face every day,” she said in court in June.
In court Monday, Johnson said she found Gibbs’ family’s words of forgiveness “very moving” and that it was apparent the family was still grieving from their loss.
At the June hearing, O’Neal read from a letter he wrote and that said since he’s been in prison, he has gone into substance-abuse treatment and has worked to “become a man of integrity.” He said he has asked for forgiveness from everyone involved.
“I stand here before everyone as a different person than I was 17 years ago,” he said.
In her written final arguments, Assistant Public Defender Crystal Kim said O’Neal lost both parents at a young age, failed several grades in school and his older sister was in and out of prison while he was growing up.
“The circumstances of Rogyne's childhood and adolescence made him particularly vulnerable to peer pressure,” she wrote. “He had virtually no parental guidance after the age of nine. Identity formation, self-esteem growth, and morality forming were all developmental tasks for which Rogyne was left to his own devices while surrounded by role models who were getting drunk or high and committing crimes.”
She wrote O’Neal’s only previous arrest was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for throwing rocks at a school bus when he was 15.
Kim asked the judge to resentence O’Neal to 25 years in her written final arguments. Assistant State Attorney Andrew Slater asked for 45 years, according to court documents.