Monday, March 30, 2009

Jury debates penalty in turnpike killings for 3rd day

— Returning on Monday for more deliberations, the jury determining the fate of two men convicted in the 2006 turnpike killings are now in their third day of penalty discussions.

The 12-member panel has now been deliberating for more than 14 hours to decide whether convicted killers Daniel Troya and Ricardo Sanchez Jr., both 25, should face the death penalty, or be sent to prison for life.

The same jury on March 4 found both men guilty of armed carjacking and other firearm offenses in the deaths of Jose “Lou” Escobedo, 28, his wife Yessica, 25, and their two sons, ages 4 and 3, whose bodies were left along Florida's Turnpike on Oct. 13, 2006, in St. Lucie County.

Jurors began deliberating Thursday after hearing nearly two weeks of evidence during the penalty phase.

At trial, prosecutors said the killings were ordered by convicted drug kingpin Danny Varela, 28, for whom Troya and Sanchez worked as drug couriers.

Varela, a co-defendant at Troya and Sanchez's trial, was convicted of several drug and weapon offenses, but he was not charged with the murders.

Around 11:30 a.m., lunch was delivered to the jury at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach so they could continue their deliberations.


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