Wednesday, May 7, 2008

High court hears appeal in Deltona murder case

Tallahassee Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Supreme Court heard an appeal today in the death-penalty case of Jerone Hunter, one of the men convicted in the 2004 murders of six people in a Deltona home.

The hearing marked the first time Supreme Court justices have listened to arguments about the grisly murders that drew nationwide attention and led to death sentences for Hunter and Troy Victorino.

Justices particularly focused on whether Hunter should have been tried separately from Victorino and Michael Salas, another defendant who was sentenced to life in prison.

At one point during the hearing, Justice Peggy Quince said the case had "three people basically pointing fingers at each other."

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Nunnelley said prosecutors worked to differentiate the evidence against the defendants. He also said Hunter, now 21, admitted his guilt in the case.

Justices also asked questions about Hunter’s relationship with Victorino, who was widely portrayed as the ringleader in the case.

"Hunter’s defense (at trial) was essentially he was under the domination of Victorino, and he didn’t have a choice," said Ryan Truskoski, who is Hunter’s attorney in the Supreme Court case. Hunter was also described as schizophrenic.

Nunnelley, however, said Hunter and Victorino were “running buddies" and that Hunter was the first of the men to charge into the Telford Lane home where the people were bludgeoned to death.

"Hunter was a full and active participant in this crime," Nunnelley said.

Justices likely will not rule on the appeal for months. Victorino also has an appeal awaiting hearing in the Supreme Court.

The men were convicted in the murders of Jonathan Gleason, 17; Michelle Nathan, 19; Erin Belanger, 22; Francisco “Flaco" Ayo-Roman, 30; Anthony Vega, 34; and Roberto “Tito" Gonzalez, 28.

Along with Hunter, Victorino and Salas, Robert Cannon accepted a life sentence in exchange for his testimony, though he later refused to testify at trial.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its another anniversary of the deaths of innocents -
God bless

Justice finds away

in memory of "John"