Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against suspect in deputy's murder

The state announced prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing a Highlands County Sheriff's Deputy.

After a grand jury indicted 69-year-old Joseph Ables in the death of Deputy William Gentry, State Attorney Brian Haas said it would be a capital case.

RELATED: Suspect arrested in murder of Highlands County deputy

It could be a long road ahead for Deputy Gentry’s family. As he was laid to rest, there was one person who couldn't watch the ceremony or farewells.

"The helicopters flew over my office. It made me sick to the stomach," said Jimmy Sottile, whose brother, FHP Sgt. Nicholas Sottile was killed in 2007 by Joshua Lee Altersberger during a traffic stop.

Gentry was shot less than 10 miles away from the scene of Sgt. Sottile’s death more than 10 years prior.

"I knew Gentry," said Sottile. "His murder was just as senseless as my brother's murder.

For 12 years, Sottile and his family have waited for justice.

"I want my father to be able to go to his grave [with justice done]," Sottile said.

A plea, a sentencing, and then an overturning of that sentence last year have kept his family waiting.

The jury was not unanimous in its initial recommendation for Sottile’s killer to receive the death penalty. Since then, the Supreme Court has ruled Florida’s sentencing guidelines unconstitutional and juries must be unanimous for a death sentence to be given.

Altersberger was first placed on death row in 2009. Sottile - who works as a bail bondsman - wonders how long Gentry's family will wait.

"[They will face] years of torture. That's what is going to happen," said Sottile. "The torture comes from knowing there is not going to be justice. You may not live long enough to see justice, because it takes so long."

Another difficulty, Sottile says, is the sudden spotlight placed on the family that they cannot turn off.

“You see their picture in the newspaper, you see the court photographs," he described. "If you are in a restaurant, someone walks up to you and asks you, you get all emotional, you can't eat. You're in a store, you have tears running down your face. The courthouse. Wherever you are, you are bombarded with emotions."

For years after the court proceedings, Sottile says he broke down any time someone approached him about his brother’s case, even if they wanted to simply wish him well.

The Highlands County Sheriff says he is "grateful" for the pursuit of the death penalty in the case of Joseph Ables.