Friday, August 7, 2009

Heyne guilty on 3 counts 1st-degree murder

Jurors found Justin Heyne guilty on three counts of premeditated first-degree murder this morning after six hours of deliberations Monday and earlier today at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.

Justin Heyne, 28, was charged with the March 30, 2006, shooting deaths of his roommates -- Sarah Buckoski; her boyfriend, Benjamin Hamilton; and their 5-year-old daughter, Ivory Hamilton.

Jury selection began July 20. Trial testimony began July 28 and wrapped up Friday.

Attorneys gave their closing arguments on Monday.

In his closing, prosecutor Tom Brown told jurors the case "screams of premeditation."

He said Hamilton was in bed and unarmed when Heyne shot him over a dispute about $300 Heyne owed.

Brown said Heyne then shot a cowering Buckoski before slapping and then shooting Ivory to quiet their screams and eliminate witnesses.

Heyne's motive, according to Brown, was that he felt "disrespected" by Hamilton.

"This is a person who shot three people with an intent to kill," Brown told jurors. "And when he was done killing this entire family, took things from the house, called for help (for himself) and took steps to cover it up."

But Heyne's lawyers said he had to defend himself when Hamilton pulled a gun as Heyne turned to leave the bedroom during the dispute. In the ensuing fight over the weapon, Buckoski reached for a gun under the bed.

Ivory was accidentally killed when she ran in front of the gun, attorneys said.

"Self-defense law doesn't say Mr. Heyne had to stay there and get shot or shot at first," said defense lawyer Michael Pirolo. "Mr. Heyne felt that his life was in danger. What happened in that small bedroom was of a quick and compulsive nature."

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Heyne. The penalty phase begins Wednesday.

Contact Summers at 242-3642 or

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i beleive he killed the little girl and mother so they could not talk about what they saw he should of killed him self after what he did