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Jury watches surveillance video of security guard's murder

Published: Sep. 1, 2007 at 10:27 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2007 at 2:56 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, SC (AP/WIS) - Jurors will decide this week whether a man lives or dies after they found him guilty of shooting a security guard and setting him on fire while trying to rob an ATM at a Springdale plant.

The jury deliberated about two hours before finding Ron O'Neal Finklea guilty of murder, arson, attempted safe-breaking, criminal conspiracy and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

As of Wednesday, jurors have heard all the testimony in the penalty phase of the trial. Closing arguments will be Thursday morning.

Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Finklea shot Selectron security guard Walter Sykes Senior twice while trying to rob an automated teller machine in the plant in August 2003.

In court Tuesday, one of Sykes' relatives testified, and jurors learned more about the security guard. Walter Sykes had a distinguished military career, loving wife, and adoring four children - including his oldest, Danielle. "He taught us respect and consideration for others."

Jurors also saw security video of the murder. In the tape, you can see Sykes working his night shift. He lets in former employee Ron Finklea to use the ATM.

Seconds later, you can see what looks like a gun in Finklea's hand as he looks around the room. Finklea goes into Sykes' office. Investigators say Finklea shoots Sykes in the face and neck.

Then, Finklea brings in an accomplice carrying a red gasoline can. Finklea brings the gas can into the office where Sykes is struggling with gunshot wounds, and you can see the room light up in flames. Finklea runs out.

Then you see Sykes - on fire - running out of the building. Sykes died a short time later.

In court - prosecutors showed jurors his burned uniform that smells of gasoline.

Sykes' boss James Banks, a fellow soldier, talked about going to Sykes' funeral. "I saluted his body. It was a way to pay tribute to a fallen comrade."

But nothing can erase what happened to the loved father. "I was and still am a daddy's girl. And I just miss my daddy. I miss my daddy and I want my daddy back," said Danielle.

Reported by Jennifer Wilson with AP

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