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As young killer appeals for freedom, a family relives decades-old murder

MiamiHerald / The Sunday night, Paul Sarnecki was murdered, he had just locked up his new restaurant near Homestead, packed two of his kids in the car and slipped behind the wheel to drive home.

Another car suddenly pulled into the parking lot with four men and 16-year-old Nakia Huggins inside. It was supposed to be a simple robbery. But Huggins and another man shot the defenseless father to death where he sat, leaving the children – a boy, 5, and girl, 10 – screaming as their car slowly crept onto the highway.

Huggins was arrested in five days, convicted a year after the 1991 crime and condemned to life in prison.

Now, 26 years later, Huggins is trying to make the case in a Miami courtroom that he deserves his life term reduced, with his attorneys and assorted experts arguing he’s a gentler, wiser man than the heedless teen who pulled the trigger so long ago.

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