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Rock Hill Man Sentenced After Interstate Domestic Violence Ends in Tragedy

Highway altercation aftermath sunrise.

Rock Hill Man Sentenced After Interstate Domestic Violence Ends in Tragedy

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Lawrence Joseph Florentine, a 56-year-old from Rock Hill, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on charges of interstate domestic violence which resulted in the death of his wife, Nicole Zahnd Florentine. The charges also include use of a firearm during a crime of violence, obstruction of justice, and use of fire to commit interstate domestic violence.

A Trail of Abuse and Violence

Evidence gathered during the investigation pointed to a history of abuse beginning in December 2019. During this period, police in York County received multiple 911 calls by Nicole who claimed that Florentine physically assaulted her and made threats to her life.

Florentine was arrested twice on domestic violence charges. However, the patterns of abuse did not end with these arrests. On May 23, 2020, The couple’s home in Rock Hill was devastated by a fire. Text messages shared by Florentine during the fire suggested that he intentionally burned down the house to destroy Nicole’s personal belongings. Arson charges related to this occurrence are pending in the state court.

The Horrific Discovery in Kentucky

Things took a tragic turn on June 13, 2020, when a groundskeeper for Hill Cemetery in Fredonia, Kentucky, stumbled upon what looked like a makeshift grave. The authorities from Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police were called in. They uncovered a partially burnt female body from the makeshift grave—later identified as Nicole Zahnd Florentine. An autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was a .22 caliber bullet wound to the head, making it a clear case of homicide.

Witnesses reported seeing a car that matched the description of Florentine’s car in the vicinity of the cemetery shortly before the body was discovered. A local hardware store confirmed Florentine had purchased a gas can along with a shovel on June 11, 2020, further cementing his connection with the horrific crime.

The Chase and Arrest

Florentine was ultimately arrested in Denver, Colorado on June 23, 2020. Before his arrest, he had discarded and concealed crucial evidence, including the firearm utilized to murder Nicole, cell phones, identification documents, and other personal items.

The Sentencing and Call for Justice

The prosecution sought a higher sentence considering Florentine’s attempts to obstruct justice, including his efforts to hide the body and destroy evidence. United States District Judge Coggins highlighted that Florentine had not only killed his wife but also denied her family the chance to mourn her properly by concealing her death.

“Nicole’s senseless murder reminds us that domestic violence can occur to anyone. We all must work to protect and support those experiencing abuse,” stated Adair F. Boroughs, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. Burrows hopes the verdict brings some closure to the victim’s loved ones.

In addition to his prison sentence, Florentine has been ordered to pay $5,800 in restitution and spend five years under supervised released once he has served his prison term. The case was thoroughly investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Kentucky State Police, Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, York County Sheriff’s Office, Rock Hill Police Department, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

HERE Rock Hill
Author: HERE Rock Hill

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