POLK COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- After several hours of deliberation, a Polk County jury found Ryan Bearden guilty of second-degree murder.
Bearden, 23, is one of the men accused of killing Ryan Skipper two years ago near Winter Haven.
Skipper, 25, was found dead on the side of a road in Wahneta near Winter Haven in March 2007.
Investigators said Bearden stabbed Skipper to death.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office called the slaying a hate crime after a witness told them the men charged in Skipper's killing did it because Skipper was gay.
Bearden was also found guilt on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, serving as an accessory after the fact in robbery with a weapon, tapering with a witness and dealing in stolen property.
Brown, meanwhile, will be tried separately on charges of robbery and first-degree murder. His trial will be scheduled at a later date.
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Tags: ryan bearden, found guilty, murder, trial, ryan skipper, gay, hate crime, gay rights, homophobia, verdict, smitten_kitten
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