TAMPA—U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday today sentenced Luis Angel Lopez (25, Hillsborough County) to life in federal prison for the June 7, 2007 contract murder of Thomas Lee Sehorne of Lithia, Florida. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $1,043,517.99. This amount represents the life insurance policies paid after the death of Mr. Sehorne. Lopez was convicted by a federal jury on August 3, 2012.
According to court documents, Thomas Lee Sehorne was found shot to death outside his home in Eastern Hillsborough County on the morning of June 7, 2007. Later that day, his widow, Cristie Fay Sehorne, and their two minor children moved in with Jerry Bottorff. A short time later, Cristie Sehorne began attempting to collect on Mr. Sehorne’s life insurance policies. A settlement was ultimately reached regarding the insurance proceeds, and Cristie Sehorne and Jerry Bottorff were married in December 2008.
On May 23, 2011, the Bottorffs and Lopez were arrested. They were each charged in a three-count indictment with the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting the carrying of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence resulting in death.
On July 9, 2012, Cristie and Jerry Bottorff pleaded guilty to the charges and later testified at the trial of Luis Angel Lopez, the hitman. The Bottorffs testified that they solicited a friend, Mike Garcia, to find someone to murder Mr. Sehorne, with a promise to pay $60,000 once they obtained Mr. Sehorne’s life insurance proceeds. On October 22, 2012, Cristie Fay Bottorff and Jerry Alan Bottorff were each sentenced to life in federal prison.
Michael Garcia was arrested in 2008 and immediately cooperated regarding the murder. During Lopez’s trial, Garcia testified that, in the early morning hours of June 7, 2007, he and Lopez traveled to Mr. Sehorne’s residence on Lithia Pinecrest Road, where Lopez waited for Mr. Sehorne to return home. When Mr. Sehorne exited his automobile, Lopez approached him and killed him with a gunshot to the chest and head. Cristie Sehorne (Bottorff) contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office the following morning to report the murder.
Garcia previously pleaded guilty for his role in this case. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 11, 2013.