After 24 years, he’s found guilty

James KuennAfter 24 years, he’s found guilty

LARGO — For nearly 22 years, James B. Kuenn kept a terrible secret.

On Wednesday, after one of the longest murder investigations in Pinellas County history, Kuenn told a jury via videotape what he had kept hidden:

He killed Carol Hutto after the 16-year-old resisted his advances during a 1976 tryst in a vacant house.

A jury of eight men and four women heard Kuenn’s tearful confession and deliberated for 22 minutes before convicting him of first-degree murder.

Kuenn, who served on a submarine in Connecticut before his 1998 arrest, wore a stern expression as he was escorted from the courtroom after the verdict. He will be sentenced Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy petty officer, now 40, faces a sentence of up to life in prison. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.

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