A Florida man accused of intentionally hitting and killing a 75-year-old veteran in Aripeka on Thursday, Jan. 9, is now facing a first-degree homicide charge, officials said.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said during a news conference on Friday that 21-year-old Justyn Pennell of Hudson was arrested following the deadly crash. Officials said he ran over the Vietnam veteran because he was “looking for someone to run over so he could see what it’s like to kill.”
Sheriff Chris Nocco said it happened around 2:30 p.m. Thursday when Pennell was running errands in his PT Cruiser. He noticed the 75-year-old victim walking alongside Aripeka Road, and then made a U-turn, accelerated toward the man, FOX 13 News reported.
“While he’s driving at his victim, he could see the look of fright on the victim’s face,” Nocco said. “This man is absolutely evil.”
After hitting and killing the victim, Pennell’s car broke down and he called 911. The sheriff said Pennell confessed to killing the victim, saying he intended to kill someone, whether they were walking or riding a bicycle, just to see what it’s like to kill.
Pennell told investigators he had a plan for several months and that he wanted to kill somebody, according to FOX 13 News.
“There are some cases … that make us realize there is pure evil in this world,” Nocco said. “Because of the pure evil that happened yesterday, there’s a 75-year-old man, who’s a father, a grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran, who was killed.”
Nocco said Pennell was not under the influence of anything at the time of the crash. The sheriff’s office said Pennell he has no prior arrests.
The sheriff also added some witnesses stopped and possibly took pictures of what happened before driving off.
Officials said they need the public’s help in finding out who possibly witnessed the crime and any information they might have.
The name of the victim has not been released.