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Family outraged that Sunrise mother’s admitted killer was released from prison after previous murder conviction

A distraught family is making a demand for answers concerning the man who confessed to killing a 33-year-old mother from Broward County.

SUNRISE, Fla. – A distraught family is making a demand for answers concerning the man who confessed to killing a 33-year-old mother from Broward County.

That man, Eric Pierson, told police he stabbed the girl to death and left her in a Davie canal.

Pierson was on a conditional release from prison after he was convicted of killing a teenager.

Now the family of 33-year-old Erika Verdecia wants to know why he was allowed out.

It turns out, had had the sentencing guidelines and laws that are in place today been in effect in the 90s, Verdecia’s murder likely would not have happened.

In 1994, Pierson strangled 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker. Her death still haunts her father John Grimstead to this day.

“Kristina never made it home from work, they happen to show the tattoo on tv to see if anyone recognized the tattoo,” Grimsted recalled.

Her family was furious after learning Pierson had previously served time for trying to kill another South Florida woman in 1985.

Pierson was given a 40-year sentence for Whitaker’s murder.

He was let out on supervised release in 2020 after serving 27 years in prison.

Grimstead feared Pierson could reoffend.

“It just amazes me, I’m angry,” he said.

The Florida Department of Corrections released a statement that read:

“Pierson was released at the expiration of his sentence on September 3, 2020, in compliance with the laws governing gain time and release dates at the time his crime was committed.”

University of Miami Law School professor Donald Jones said that likely wouldn’t happen today.

“You have to do 85 percent of your time,” Jones said. “It’s a direct reflection of a shifting of a conservative punitive attitude toward people committing crimes.”

Verdecia’s family said had Pierson physically stayed in prison, their daughter would still be alive.

“We are going to do everything we have to do so the DOC can tell me why my daughter is dead, why they let a killer out,” said Carmen Verdecia.

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About the Author:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.