St. Augustine, Fla.- The fun world of videogames has turned dark today, as three men were convicted of the murder of six people with baseball bats over an argument that included an Xbox video game system. Troy Victorino, 29, Michael Salas, 20, and Jerone Hunter, also 20, will find out later this week whether they will spend the rest of their lives in jail, or be put to death by lethal injection.
The incident, prosecutors said, started when Victorino was kicked out of victim Erin Belanger's grandmother's house. Belanger, 22, had kept some of his possessions, including some clothes, and an Xbox.
Attorneys for both Salas and Hunter claimed that their clients were intimidated by the 6-foot-7 inch, 270 pound Victorino. They claimed that had Victorino not threatened them, they never would have entered the house. They also said that they did hit some of the victims with baseball bats, but did not inflict any fatal blows. Frank Bankowitz, the attorney for Hunter, even said that Victorino was, "kind of a Charles Manson" when it came to getting Salas and Hunter to participate in the killings. Jeff Dowdy, one of Victorino's lawyers, said that it was a "feeding frenzy, blame everything on Troy."
State Attorney John Tanner said that it did not matter who killed who in the Deltona, Florida, home, and also said the claims that Salas and Hunter were afraid of Victorino are false. Victorino testified that he was at a restaurant drinking at the time with friends at the time of the 2004 murders. He also said that he was not mad at Belanger, as he had permission to be at her grandmother's home.
However, a pair of boots belonging to Victorino were found stained with the blood of several victims, cime analysts said. They also said that bloody prints matching the boots were found at the crime scene.
Including Belanger, the other victims were Francisco Ayo-Roman, 19; Michelle Nathan, also 19; Anthony Vega, 34; Roberto Gonzalez, 28; and Jonathan Gleason, 17.
Robert Cannon, 20, also was allegedly involved with the killings. He pleaded guilty last October of the charges, but refused to testify early in the trial, saying that he wished to change his plea to innocent. Chief Circuit Judge Bill Parsons is undecided whether he will allow the change.