A judge delivered death sentences to the ringleader and a participant in the bloody beating deaths of six people over an Xbox video game system
Troy Victorino, 29, and Jerone Hunter, 20, were sentenced by Chief Circuit Judge Bill Parsons after their convictions on first-degree murder for the 2004 slaughter of six people. Neither man showed emotion when the verdicts were read.
A jury recommended death for both Hunter and Victorino, but the final decision of life in prison without parole or death rested with Parsons.
The judge noted that blood was found on the floors, ceilings and walls of the house where the six victims were found.
"The victims were not only killed, they were brutalised," Parsons said. "It was a revenge killing by Hunter and Victorino. The murders were performed in a cool, calm, calculated manner."
Victorino organised the attacks with Hunter and two other younger men to retrieve the video game system and other belongings after he was kicked out of a house in which he was squatting. Defence lawyers for the three other men found guilty painted him as a manipulative, menacing figure who threatened the others if they refused to participate.
The six victims suffered blows to the head causing severe skull fractures and brain injury, a medical examiner determined. Several of the bodies were also mutilated with stab wounds and cuts after death, and some victims were missing most of their teeth.
The judge ignored previous arguments by Hunter's lawyer Ed Mills, who had argued his client should not receive the death penalty because he suffers from schizophrenia. Jeff Dowdy, Victorino's lawyer, had asked Parsons to spare his client because he has mental problems and was abused as a child.
First Assistant State Attorney David R Smith said: "We are pleased and grateful with the victory and the death sentence."
Michael Salas and Robert Anthony Cannon, both 20, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for their involvement. Cannon had pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the prosecution, but declared his innocence at trial and refused to answer questions.
Those killed were Erin Belanger, 22; Michelle Nathan, 19; Francisco Ayo-Roman, 30; Anthony Vega, 34; Roberto Gonzalez, 28, and Jonathan Gleason, 17.
2 Sentenced To Death For Video Game Murders