DAYTONA BEACH–Volusia County Circuit Judge William A. Parsons this morning–at 10:17 a.m.– sentenced William Gregory to death for the double-murder of his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend near Flagler Beach in August 2007.
Gregory murdered Skyler Meekins, 17, and Daniel Dyer, 22, by shooting them in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun as they slept together in Meekins’s grandparents’ house on John Anderson Highway south of Flagler Beach on Aug. 21, 2007. He shot them as his 1-year-old daughter Kyla, whom he’d had with Skyler, slept in another room.
“William Arthur Gregory,” the judge intoned at the end of a 10-page order he read from the bench, “under the laws of the state of Florida, you have not only forfeited your right to live among us, you have forfeited your right to live at all.”
Gregory, now 28, in a green and white striped jail suit and his legs shackled, had sat almost motionless throughout the judge’s reading of the order, flanked by a bailiff to his right and another behind him. Gregory’s attorney, Gary Wood, sat to Gregory’s left.
When the judge was ready to pronounce the sentence, after reading the long order, he asked Gregory to approach the bench. Gregory stood at the dais, a few feet from the judge. A deputy stood behind him, another stood to his right, a third stood to his left, next to Wood. Gregory appeared to whiten, and his eyes to redden, after the order. He was then fingerprinted and taken away. The courtroom quickly emptied of the 25 or so people who’d sat through the sentencing.
On March 9, a split jury recommended, in two 7-5 votes (one for each murder), that Gregory be put to death. In the phase of the trial where guilt is determined, the jury must be unanimous for a guilty verdict. Sentencing recommendations do not require a unanimous vote, nor is the judge bound by the recommendation, although if six or more people vote against the death penalty, it’s considered a recommendation for life. The recommendation for Gregory’s death sentence obtained through the bare majority of seven votes.
Parsons weighed a series of four aggravating factors against a longer set of mitigating factors, analyzing each in turn to conclude that “aggravating circumstances in this case far outweigh the mitigating circumstances. This court agrees with the jury’s recommendation that in weighing the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating circumstances, the scales of life and death tilt unquestioningly to the side of death.”
Mitigating factors included Gregory’s behavior “under the influence of extreme mental or emotional” stress, his impaired capacity to gauge the severity of his actions, his long-standing drug addiction, being raised by a single mother, being forced to watch his 6-year-old sister raped at knifepoint by a 14 year old when he was 8, and having had a generally dysfunctional childhood. Parsons, without diminishing the effects of the facts laid out, and conceding that “there is no question that he”–Gregory–“had a difficult childhood devoid of much positive guidance,” nevertheless gave each of these mitigating factors “slight weight.”
The night of the murders, Gregory consumed alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and “pills” but appeared to be functional “based on a series of calls that took place between 10:09 p.m. and 11:27 p.m. which were apparently made from his home,” the judge said. “The murders appear to have occurred at or around 1:30 a.m. the next morning.”
After the murders, Gregory took a swim, in his clothes, including his wallet and shoes, “in an apparent attempt to purge himself of shotgun residue,” the judge said. He then called 911, at 4:17 a.m., to report that he wanted to turn himself in for drug use, “a transparent attempt to create an alibi for the murders.”
Parsons systematically laid out the aggravating factors of the case to weigh them against–and outweigh–the mitigating facts. Those factors included Gregory’s prior felony conviction on a cocaine charge (attempted possession), though that factor was given only moderate weight; the heavier factor was the murders themselves, the burglary committed before the murder (the weapon Gregory used was in the house), and the “cold, calculated and premeditated” nature of the murders.
The judge summed up the various times Gregory, months before the murders, had threatened to “blow he head off” if his ex-girlfriend cheated on him, and that he’d kill whatever boyfriend she might have at the time as well. He then put his plan in action once he learned that Skyler Meekins was seeing Daniel Dyer.
“Once at the residence,” the judge read from the bench, “he entered the house surreptitiously, located the 12-gauge shotgun in a closet, located the shotgun shells on a shelf in the closet and loaded just two shells into the shotgun which was described as a weapon that was difficult to load. Mr. Gregory, at this point fully armed with a loaded weapon, passed by the separate rooms of Skyler Meekins’ grandmother and grandfather and went to the sleeping room which Skyler Meekins occupied where she and Daniel Dyer were cuddling while sleeping. It has been clearly established, without refutation, that he placed the loaded weapon at point blank range and aimed at the heads of the respective victims where he killed each of them in execution style with devastating shots to the heads of both victims in an act that was totally consistent with his earlier announced plan.”
At the end of his order, the judge wrote, in capital letters, “MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL.”
A brief, errant sob was heard in the courtroom, which was otherwise quiet.
“What happens now,” Wood, Gregory’s attorney, said after the sentencing, “by law there’s an automatic, direct appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. Normally in a non-death sentencing it would go to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals here in Deltona. But that now is bypassed by law. So the entire file, the entire transcripts of every hearing, every part of the trial, every phase of the case will be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court, and they’ll be looking at any alleged errors that were made in the case to see if those errors were prejudicial enough so that Mr. Gregory can get a new trial. And if they feel that way, then they’ll mandate a return back to this court or to Flagler court for a new trial. That’s what we’re going to be asking at the next level.” That’ll happen within the next week or so.
The hearing had begun with the judge revealing that Gregory had sent him a letter alleging that Wood had been an ineffective attorney in the case, but Gregory wasn’t looking to dismiss him since the trial was essentially over. The judge made the allegations part of the record but recommended—and Gregory agreed—to have them heard in the appeal.
Gregory has been in jail since 2007–mostly in the Flagler County jail, but briefly in jail in St. Johns and in Volusia County, where his trial was moved. Today, he will be taken back to the Flagler County jail. Flagler County will then be responsible for transporting him to death row at the Florida State Prison in Starke or at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, where he will live the remaining of his days in a 6 by 9 by 9.5-foot cell. He’s likely to be there many years. The average life span of an inmate on death row, since the death penalty was reinstated in Florida in 1979, is close to 13 years. In 2000, the Palm Beach Post calculated that, at the time, each death row inmate who was eventually executed had cost the state $24 million between sentencing and execution, about double the cost of a prison sentence for life.
Gregory is joining 392 inmates on death row. There have been no executions in Florida this year. There was one last year, two in 2009, two in 2008, none in 2007 and four in 2006. There’s been a total of 69 executions since 1979.
The last person sentenced to death for a murder committed in Flagler County is Cornelius Baker, who murdered Elizabeth Uptagrafft, a 56-year-old grandmother from Daytona Beach, in the woods west of Bunnell on Jan. 7, 2007. Baker and his girlfriend, Patricia Roosa–he was 20, she was 19 at the time of the murder–had invaded Uptagrafft’s home, held her elderly mother and son captive, beaten them, then taken Uptagrafft in her car to Flagler County, where they robbed her of $500 from her bank account, at an ATM. She was set free on Black Point Road, only for Baker to shoot her twice. Roosa was sentenced to life in prison in June 2009.
Flalger Beach’s last murderer, Michael Robert Everett, was sentenced to life without parole in April 2008 for the 2007 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Lindsay Brown, 39, at the time of the murder. Brown, a native of Scotland, was killed at her apartment at 211 S. Third St the day before Uptagrafft was killed in the western part of the county.
God Bless our justice system. God bless the jury and judge for coming to this decision and God Bless the families of Skylar Meekins and Daniel Dyer.
Rot in hell Mr. Gregory.
Veronica Scott says
I have not been following this case, but after reading this article, I felt moved to respond. I would never condone murder. We’ve all been wronged before and we don’t all have such a brutal response to rejection, but I also cannot fathom how awful this young man must have felt to see the mother of his child sleeping with someone else (I’m sure many out there could relate to that kind of pain). It’s a shame that all the people involved in this situation did not get help of some kind a lot sooner. Perhaps 3 lives could have been saved. I feel badly for all families involved, including Gregory’s, who will also be losing a son (and in many ways, most likely already have). We have to remember that a death sentence does not just affect the convicted. We always seem to remember the families of the victims (and rightfully so!), but never the families of the criminal, who do not deserve to lose their loved one… but they are being punished too. Some call it justice (and I understand why… yes, if it were my family member, I might feel that way too), but for me, sitting here reading this, it’s just sad. Too many young lives ended quite tragically. Too many families irretrievably broken. Such a shame. Condolences to all families involved.
I personally know Billy Gregory, and I know him to be the most polite, appreciative, kind young man, you would ever meet.. He loved Skylar. I appreciate Veronica Scott for knowing that there are more victims than 2 here…and for a Judge to accept testimony from a man in court who couldn’t even identify him, or for the judge to not use DNA technology to find out who’s “other” two prints were on the gun, and to know that the only reason they convicted him is based upon circumstancial evidence,,is simply wrong. Ok so he turned himself in for doing drugs…is that enough to sentence someone to death. Billy’s daughter will be 16 when he becomes eligible for the death penalty.. She already lost one parent, Young ladies should be planning their sweet 16’s not anticipating or should I say dreading the day her daddy gets put to death. Who are we to “be God”..,The death Penalty shouldn’t exist.. I know Billy, I have letters where I asked him to “take the plea” if he had any chance of being guilty.. he said “no, I didn’t do it”.
I still believe in Billy!, and we won’t give up the fight!
What Kendall said.
New to PC says
Kendall, you hit the nail on the head.
Thank god this monster will never see the light of day as a free man again. They should bring this POS over to starke and give him a ride in “old sparky” and let his a** fry.
Mr. Gregory you will not be missed, people will applaud the day that your life is taken from you and I am proud to say i will be one of those people.
i think all you people that think he did it dont know him and you dont know the whole story and he was put to death before he had a chance. I love you bill and i know you did not due it.
concerned citizen says
THANK GOD!!! JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED!!!
just a citizen says
Veronica and Erin… you can join all the other “death row groupies” and write Mr. Gregory love letters…. while he awaits his turn…….. maybe you want to write Richard Allen Davis while you’re at it, the man who kidnapped 12-year-old Polly Klaas from her Petaluma home in 1993 and killed her. He’s probably a nice guy too.
I wonder what your tune would be if that was your sister or brother that he shot in the head……….
Fry him…soooner the better
Joe A. says
Kendall said it all.
Maybe Adolph Hitler was a nice guy? Caught up in the moment of world domination maybe?
A nice man doesn’t commit double homicide.
i know him very well i dated his brother… he did do it. his brother even admitted it to me. so you guys who think you knew him knew of his double personality. good ridence.
its ok…its going to cost 24 million dollars in appeals for the State of Florida . I’m not a “death row” groupie. I personally know Billy since he was a kid and I believe in his innocence. The dumb ass judge allowed the testimony of a convict who couldn’t identify Billy in court, there were 3 sets of fingerprints on that gun, not one…no one allowed that.. There was a witness that the state chose not to call, and numerous other errors in that courtroom..Including the fact that he was in lockdown for 3 years without any outside contact including phone calls home..but amazingly enough the redneck news media seeking convicts all of a sudden were his “friends” who he confided in and “played checkers with”.. I’m wondering how that was possible if he was in lock down… Here’s a word for you Floridians.. CORRUPT
WE BELIEVE IN THE INNOCENCE OF BILLY GREGORY
how the hell can u even kill someone so good u are sick
i love you bill
He told Skylar and just about everyone else he knew that he would kill her and any guy she would date.
What more do you murderer loving people need to realize that this piece of trash murdered the mother of his baby while she slept just a few yards away?
If anyone ever deserved the death penalty, William Gregory does.
ERIN…you obviously are close to this scumbag, as you state you know him from childhood…..I invite you to scroll up to the beginning of this article and look at the pictures of this devil in the courtroom. He has the look of NO REMORSE. I do not think that his daughter ( when she turns 16 ) will even want to remember him….as he stole her mother from her. Look up the word ‘naive’ in the dictionary. You might find your picture next to it.
just a citizen says
I’m sure you also believe in the easter bunny….Erin. You are a groupie in your own way…..disregard all the hard facts….and taylor the evidence to fit your misguided theories. You are textbook material.
To “Just a Citizen”..let me explain one more time.. I am a very close friend of his family and I STILL believe in his Innocence. You redneck dumbass’s can’t even properly put someone to trial Witnesses weren’t called., there were 3 sets of prints on that gun. Billy’s weren’t the ones on that trigger. Billy slept over her house the night before,and Happpppppiness (aka, father of the year) knows it. Billy loved Skylar and they were friendly. The were shopping at the mall 3 days before and at the pier the day before.
I’m wondering if he swam the intercoastal too to commit the crime because no one saw him there, but a witness that was never called can place him home at 1am..and the idiotic judge who allowed testimony of a “media seeking convict” who stated Billy said something to him..was ludacrous based upon the fact that Billy has been in isolation for the entire 3 years.. I’m wondering when he had time to play checkers and confide in one of these fools. Then, when the witness is asked to identify Billy in court., the man says “Uh duh, no…I don’t see him here”.. They ask is that the man who said he’d murder anyone sitting in this courtroom, the witness replies “NO~.. amazing though that his testimony wasn’t stricken. Its ok, really a witness who couldn’t identify the defendant?????? well at least he has an Appeal~ I’m not an outsider who’s making an opinion.. I am a friend of the defendant and his family.. and WE ALL BELIEVE IN HIM ~
In reference to the negative comments. Where you there? Did you see him do it? Many have been sentenced to death or wrongly convicted when in return new evidence has turned up. You have read all of the news articles and believe everything you read. My heart goes out to the families for their tremendous loss. I know there is a lot of hatred built up against Billy prior to this conviction from some of your comments. And I am sure you believe you know it all!!! Something does not seem right here, it will come out, I know it. Have you ever thought that maybe there was someone else? Wow, two shots in the house and nobody heard it????? Maybe someone thought that Billy was the one in the bed??? A lot of different scenarios!!! Oh, but you claim to know the truth (or at-least think you do)
childhood is considered under 20 right… erin new him at 21 or 22 that is no child… you do not know him erin. you know his other personality. you are being brainwashed by a murderer… i told skylars parents to keep him away from her they didnt listen to me and now look where there daughter is. you can say ohh she has a father on death row… but where is her mom? and who would want billy gregory as a father… major mistake there. in the first place because of his record he would never be allowed to be around her till she turns 18. it is a bad choice to put a young girl around a person as evil as him… i know him personally and those of you who say you know him are wrong you are either family on his side, an old f*ck buddy or someone very vulnerable and empty headed. of course you would lie and say you didnt do it who wants to be in jail or put to death… use your head a little bit. they dont even have the whole story on his childhood what i know would be more use for the conviction that was not even needed because they have already sooo much evidence on that evil man. you should not be saying rude things about floridians especially when some of your family lives in florida… he is where he should be and will be going to hell.
ryon gates says
I knew billy before all of you people. I don’t know if billy did it or not, I’ve known billy since I was a kid, yea if he’s guilty he should pay for his crime but what does killing him do? certainly doesn’t change what’s done or raise the victims grave, just puts billy’s blood on someone elses hands. If billy believes in God as his saviour he will be forgiven. For a state to say do as say, not as I do is absurd. Kill a killer we’ll teach e’m lol!!! And yer animosity toward him yea God says if you hate someone you commit murder in yer heart. So all you hypocrites and wannbee killers watchin yer violent movies and playin yer video games and listening to tupac “get a life” and an education or slap yer parents for given you retard genes.
We Miss You Skyler Soccer Star says
I went to school with Skyler from middle school to high school knew her up until she was [murdered]. I wish she would’ve said more to anyone who would listen && we can all talk about what shoulda coulda happened. The facts are a mother will not see her child grow up. Someones son friend couisn, even brother maybe was murdered while trying to build a relationship with a wonderful person/young mother. whether “billy” did it or not, only god knows. Who ever did will pay for his actions and im not speaking of societies view on punishment. The only correct words in all i’ve read on this page is MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON HIS SOUL. I don’t know of ANYONE else that would sneak into a home, know where to locate a shotgun and shells, not rob anything and only hurt Skyler and her boyfriend….. Again we can not judge. Who ever has done this is a pitiful excuse for a human being and i pray they find Christ before their soul is cast to eternal hell.
I knew Billy and the rest of his family back when they lived in Montana, been well over 10 years since I’ve seen any of them. But to be honest, knowing him then and seeing the exact same lifestyle 10 + years later, I truly believe he killed both of them. Look at the pictures of him in the court room, does he really look like somebody who is innocent? I feel bad the little girl will grow up without either of her parents but its something she will have to learn to deal with as she gets older. I feel bad Billy receieved the death penalty but its consequences of his actions. I truly hope he makes peace with himself about the whole situation, I truly hope he makes peace with the vitcims families, and most of all I really truly hope he makes peace with God for his actions. So that he can experience forgiveness and know that just because he made some bad choices here in earth that, that God still gives second chances.
I went to school with timmy mcveigh. He was also a great guy. But he was found guilty of the Oklahoma f Murray bombings. Did he do it? Of course, he did!! Sometimes seemingly nice guys can do horrible crimes,, believe it, Gregory is guilty!
I knew Gregory since he was 12 i grew up with him in pine hills even though he may or may have not committed this crime i still feel for him he is a good person just like anyone else he is not perfect he has made a lot of mistakes, the victims and advocates see a hard core murderer who shows no emotion during a hearing what i see is the same person i knew 16 years ago, the same person who grew up in a dysfunctional situation, the same person who would freeze up and show that emotionless face when he was scared, the same person who was a friend when i needed a friend.. i hope he didnt do this but in my head if the same situation happen to me at his age i would of done the same thing call me a sick f**k, call me a psycho, call me a murderer, old ‘short bus’ would of called me a friend… ” short bus” you dumb ass you done messed up i came looking to make connections with old friends and realized everyone i grew up with is either dead or in prison for some horrific crime, i thought we would both grow up and be able to hang out and live life., now your done no more life no more nothing.. i seems like yesterday hanging out with u and matt fantasizing about are freedom, ‘it was all pipe dream’… im not religious but if there is a god please help this man and the family of the victims, please give guidance to his daughter and not cast a shadow on his soul…
I live in Kalispell Montana and I grew up with the Gregory he had a hard childhood and I don’t think murder was the solution here. I was sent a letter Gregory’s attorneys asking if I thought he should be put to death and what he was like when we were younger. Bill was always and I would say under normal circumstances he would never done anything like that but as the first response says can you imagine what you would do if the mother of your child had cheated on you and was in bed with someone else I think i to would go out of my head or insane for a minute.I do not think bill should be put to death you should have to sit out sometime for the justice of the family of the victim but bill and that woman’s child, Kila should not have to pay the ultimate price of not having either parent around for the rest of her life. Please for the sake of Bills family his brother his mother his sister and especially his daughter do not put bill to death.