Neville George Anthony Bethune, 50, of Lehigh Acres, was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to life in prison for First Degree Murder with a Firearm and 15 years in prison for Arson in the Second Degree. The jury returned the guilty verdict in March following a five-day trial in Lee County.
In 2019, the victim, a 25-year-old man, visited the defendant at his Lehigh Acres home to collect money owed to him. The victim spoke with the defendant and another man, co-defendant, Andrew Maldonado.
Deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, later found the victim’s body, burned beyond recognition, in the trunk of a car, near South Bay, a city in Palm Beach County. Surveillance video from a nearby gas station captured Bethune, his brother Donovan Baker, also a co-defendant, and Maldonado in the area that night. The videos showed Bethune’s truck following the victim’s rental car, just a short distance from where it was set on fire.
Later the three men are seen on the surveillance video from the same convenience store. Bethune appeared to have trouble getting out of the car. Evidence presented at trial showed he had sustained injuries when he set the car on fire.
The three were arrested following an investigation by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The U.S. Marshals also assisted in the case.
Assistant State Attorney Reid Scott and Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts, from the 15th Judicial Circuit, were appointed as special prosecutors for the 20th Judicial Circuit, to prosecute this case.
Samantha Syoen – Communications Director, State Attorney’s Office