Plant City man sentenced to 40 years in prison for bat beating - FOX 13 News

Plant City man sentenced to 40 years in prison for baseball bat beating

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A Bay area man convicted of beating his wife to death with a baseball bat has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Lawrence Dickey of Plant City fatally beat his wife the night of Sept. 17, 2011, in their home. He was convicted of second-degree murder, saying in his trial that he was too drunk to remember what happened.

His wife, Bea Dickey, was the highest ranking civilian employee at the Polk County Sheriff's Office. She was executive director of the Office of Business Affairs. The couple went to a Journey concert on the night of her death.

In the trial, Lawrence said he drank 11 beers and did two shots of tequila. He told the jury he didn't remember returning home that night or getting a bat from the couple's garage.

He said he remembered leaving the concert and then nothing else until he found his wife bleeding.

"I was standing over the edge of my bed and she was lying there and blood was coming out of her head. And my softball bat was laying next to her," he told the jury, in tears.

Police say Dickey later drove to the Plant City Police Department and turned himself in.

Dickey will also have to serve five years of drug offender probation. He won't be able to drink alcohol and must submit to random testing.

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Bea Dickey was one of the top "go to" people at the Polk County Sheriff's Office. She managed the sprawling department's financial affairs, went through growing pains as it matured, and was a close friend of its outspoken Sheriff Grady Judd.

"Emotionally for us, it is not enough, and never will be enough because he took a life and he still has the opportunity to live," Judd said.

The judge also gave Lawrence Dickey the possibility of parole. After the sentence was handed down, Bea Dickey's son, Matthew, reacted as well.

"I know it won't be for the complete 40 years, but if he gets out when he is 78 or 79 years-old, there is not much of a life you can live after that, so I am pretty satisfied with the number," he said.

The murder happened in the Dickey's Plant City home a little more than two years ago with their kids in the other room. The couple had gotten back from a Journey concert. Investigators say Lawrence Dickey was inebriated. His wife was asleep in their bed. He got a bat and hit her in the head three times and was pronounced dead at the hospital a little while later.

"Bea was simply the best person you would ever want to meet," Carrie Eleazer, one of Bea's close friends and co-workers told FOX 13. "She was completely selfless."

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