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Florida Supreme Court denies latest Victorino appeal in Xbox murders
By Pat Andrews
posted Oct 16, 2013 - 3:45:14pm
The name Troy Victorino brings back the nightmare on Telford Lane.
On Oct. 10, the Florida Supreme Court denied Victorino's latest appeal of his death sentence.
Victorino and three other men were convicted in 2006 of entering a home on Telford Lane in Deltona in the wee hours of Aug. 5, 2004. They surprised six sleeping people and brutally murdered them, bludgeoning the victims with aluminum baseball bats and stabbing them and slashing their throats with knives. Victim Erin Belanger's little dog, George, was stomped to death.
Victorino was identified as the ringleader. His motive? Revenge.
The prosecution presented evidence that Victorino was enraged because Belanger had called the law to have him and some of his friends, including co-defendant Jerone Hunter, evicted from a home where they had been squatting. Belanger had been watching the house for her grandmother.
Victorino, who was not at the grandmother's house when officers showed up, believed Belanger had taken his Xbox and some other belongings from the home. This fueled his rage, according to testimony during the trial.
The dead are: Belanger, 22; Francisco Ayo-Roman, 30; Jonathan Gleason, 17; Roberto Gonzalez, 28; Michelle Nathan, 19; and Anthony Vega, 34.
The brutality of the murders brought worldwide publicity. Some of the victims had been beaten to the point they were not recognizable.
Convicted were Victorino, Hunter, Michael Salas and Robert Cannon.
Victorino and Hunter got the death penalty, while Salas and Cannon were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Victorino's earlier, automatic appeal to the Supreme Court was denied in 2009. So was his request for a new trial.
Victorino's latest "wide-ranging" appeal met unanimous rejection by the state Supreme Court, The News Service of Florida reported.
The appeal centered on whether Victorino received effective legal representation before going to death row. Victorino's appeal claimed that his attorneys should have sought a mistrial when defendant Robert Cannon refused to be cross-examined during the trial, after giving some testimony against Victorino.
The justices found Cannon's refusal to be cross-examined did not cause such harm that it warranted a new trial in the killings.
"Cannon's comments implicating Victorino were brief and unelaborated," the Supreme Court opinion said. "While Cannon was on the stand for some time, only a few lines of testimony were harmful to Victorino. Cannon testified that Victorino intended to harm the residents of the Telford Lane home but did not testify that Victorino actually inflicted any blows. Further, except for Cannon's statement that he was intimidated by Victorino, each of the incriminating points made by Cannon was established by other evidence that is not the subject of a postconviction challenge. As a result, Cannon's testimony was not essential to the state's case against Victorino."
Hunter's appeal to the Supreme Court and request for a new trial have also been denied.
Victorino, now 36, is on death Row at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford. He was convicted on six counts of murder, one for each victim. He was sentenced to die for the murders of Belanger, Gonzalez, Geason and Ayo-Roman, and to life in prison for the deaths of Nathan and Vega. He was also convicted of one count of abuse of a dead body, one count of armed burglary of a dwelling, one county of conspiracy, and one county of cruelty to an animal (the killing of Belanger's dog), for which he received additional prison time.
Victorino can appeal the state Supreme Court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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