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Gainesville man sentenced to life in prison in murder case
Nicely convicted on murder counts, 2 other charges
1215TRIALBilly Nicely
Billy Nicely

Billy D. Nicely was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of two counts of felony murder, one count of cruelty to a child in the first degree and one count of aggravated assault.

Nicely, 26, of Gainesville was on trial for murder for the 2009 death of his girlfriend's 1-year-old daughter Tayore Wright.

Following closing arguments Tuesday, the jury deliberated Tuesday evening and most of Wednesday before delivering a verdict of guilty on all counts Wednesday afternoon.

"We respect the jury's verdict, but we will be appealing as soon as possible," said Adam Levin, Nicely's attorney from the Northeastern Judicial Circuit Defender's Office.

Nicely reportedly told the girl's family he was holding the child on the stairs when she jerked out of his arms and fell. An autopsy determined her injuries were not consistent with a fall, police said.

In closing arguments Tuesday, Nicely's attorneys talked to the jury about several other factors that contributed to the child's bruising and injuries besides her fall.

They said Wright had a blood disorder that could have caused some of the bleeding and bruising, and tight braids in the child's hair were responsible for some of the bruising on her head.

Prosecuting attorney Wanda Vance said it is highly unlikely so many pieces came together to cause the toddler's death.

"Her injuries are consistent with being beaten with one object," Vance said. "He's guilty based on his own actions and statements as well as medical evidence."

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