By Darryl Tardy
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A convicted killer speaks out from behind bars saying he's not guilty.
A First Coast man says he's planning to appeal his sentence for murder.
Last week, a judge sentenced John Hogwood to 25 years behind bars after a plea arrangement.
But it's not the first Hogwood has been behind bars or made an agreement with authorities.
In 2000, he talked with children about being incarcerated after serving time for a battery conviction.
This time around, Hogwood says he was forced to plea.
It's been fifteen months since Ryan McCarthy was killed in a Jacksonville park.
But last Thursday, McCarthy's family says they were victimized again.
This time by their son's killer and the bargain he made with the justice system.
Fiely McCarthy is Ryan's mother.
She says, I would go to trial with him. Love to. But that wasn't our choice."
John Hogwood could have received a life sentence.
But the case ended when he plead guilty to McCarthy's murder.
Hogwood's punishment was to spend the next 25 years in prison.
In court, prosecutors defended the deal saying it was the best possible outcome given the facts of this case.
But although he implicated himself, Hogwood told First Coast News, "I would like to go to trial and if they convict me at trial I would have peace because I made a decision that wasn't based on my true feelings. I was rushed into [it] and pressured and was ignorant to the law."
McCarthy's mother disputes his claim.
"He did it. He knows he did it. He did it. He's just trying to find an easy way to get out of it."
Despite a guilty plea, Hogwood still claims he's innocent.
"People think of me as a murderer. I'm not that murderer people think me to be."
But McCarthy's family says the evidence is clear, and that Hogwood's admission may haunt them the rest of their lives.
McCarthy's mom adds, "He's just one of those types of people that needs to put away and stay locked up for a long time.
And that would be the best thing for people on the outside."
First Coast News tried contacting Hogwood's attorney but he did not return our phone calls for comment.
The assistant state attorney handling the case says Hogwood entered into an agreement after being confronted with the full evidence against him.
Hogwood will be transferred to a state prison sometime next month.
Three other people have also plead guilty to accessory after the fact and face up to five years in prison.
First Coast News