Randall Lewis Breazeale, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to stabbing a man to death in Flowery Branch last September, will likely spend the rest of his life serving time for the crime.
Tony Caswell Reece was killed Sept. 16, 2011, as he tried to defend his girlfriend, Alicia Flores, and her granddaughter from Breazeale with a bat.
Breazeale, 57, has been sentenced to life in prison, plus another 12 months of incarceration and 20 years of probation should he live long enough to be released from prison.
He was charged with one count each of felony murder, attempted kidnapping and cruelty to a child.
In Hall County Superior Court on Tuesday, prosecutors described the crime as one of an obsessed, jilted lover.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Bagwell said that after Breazeale and Flores ended a monthslong relationship in August 2011, Breazeale became obsessed and stalked Flores, sending her numerous text messages and staking out her apartment and her work.
And on Sept. 16, as Flores came home with her 7-year-old granddaughter, Breazeale, who had broken into her apartment on Chattahoochee Street, was hiding in a closet with a knife and a rope.
Reece arrived at the apartment later, and, according to statements made in court Tuesday, went upstairs with a bat to investigate creaking noises.
Flores and her granddaughter followed.
When Reece opened a closet door, he found Breazeale. Prosecutors said Breazeale asked “Are you Tony?” before stabbing him.
Reece yelled for Flores to get a stun gun, but by the time she returned, Breazeale was gone and Reece had been stabbed 15 times in the chest and stomach with a 7-inch blade, causing wounds that punctured his lung, heart and liver.
Reece succumbed to the injuries, and authorities found Breazeale hiding in River Forks Park three days later.
“Mr. Reece died a hero defending Ms. Flores and her granddaugther,” Bagwell said.
Reading a statement Flores had written, daughter Melissa Reyes told how the event on Sept. 16 has changed Flores’ life.
“My heart has been shattered, and I just exist now,” the statement read.
Reece, 51, was a machinist and a father. His 23-year-old daughter, Briana, told the court she could no longer bear to watch her father’s favorite television shows, noting that in a few weeks, she and her brother will spend Father’s Day without their dad for the first time.
“We can no longer smell the metal on him from working or the cologne when he’s going out,” she said.
The grieving daughter asked Judge Jason Deal to limit Breazeale’s contact with his family during his sentence, so that he would understand their pain.
Flores’ statement directly addressed her former flame.
“Randy, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in prison,” Reyes read her mother’s words. “Only God can forgive you for what you have done.”
The sentence Deal handed down, which was negotiated between district attorneys and Breazeale’s attorney in exchange for the plea, gives Breazeale the possibility of making parole. But Deal said he’s not sure it’s possible that Breazeale, 57, will live long enough to be eligible for parole.
Breazeale, who had previously been arrested for burglary in February 2011, said little in court Tuesday other than to admit his guilt.
“I don’t know how you went from committing theft to murdering people,” Deal told the defendant.