Troy Victorino, who with three accomplices murdered and mutilated six people in Deltona in August 2004–in part over a disputed Xbox game–lost an appeal in Volusia County Circuit Court today. Judge William Parsons ruled that Victorino did not receive ineffective counsel nor were his rights violated during his trial. He will remain on death row, at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford. Further appeals are likely.
Victorino, now 35, was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder on July 25, 2006, a count of abuse of a cadaver and a count of cruelty to an animal (a daschund was killed), among others, and subsequently sentenced to death for the murder of four of the six victims: Erin Belanger, 22, Francisco Ayo-Roman, 30, Jonathan Gleason, 17, and Roberto Gonzalez, 28. The jury’s votes for the death sentence were either 10-2 or 9-3. Victorino was convicted to life sentences for the murders of Michelle Nathan, 19, and Anthony Vega, 34.
The six victims were discovered the morning of Aug. 6, 2004, by Christopher Carol, a co-worker of two of the victims, at Belanger’s home on Telford Lane in Deltona. Carol had gone there to pick them up to go to work at Burger King. “There’s four or five people in there and they’re just all laying on the floor,” he told the 911 dispatcher, “and I yelled and yelled and yelled and no one answered, and I walked in and just looked in the bedroom and I see blood on the bed and I stopped and backed up.”
Officers responding to the 911 call arrived to find the victims in various rooms, according to court papers. “The victims had been beaten to death with baseball bats and had sustained cuts to their throats, most of which were inflicted postmortem. Belanger also sustained postmortem lacerations through her vagina up to the abdominal cavity of her body, which were consistent with having been inflicted by a baseball bat. The medical examiner determined that most of the victims had defensive wounds. The front door had been kicked in with such force that it broke the deadbolt lock and left a footwear impression on the door,” marks that led to Victorino’s Lugz boots.
“The entire house was ravaged with bodies in different states of destruction and there was blood splatter on the floors, walls and ceilings of the home,” the court accounts continued.
Victorino had a prior felony conviction and was on probation at the time of the murders, which were deemed “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel” by the court.
Parsons held an evidentiary hearing on Dec. 14. Chris Anderson, Victorino’s court-appointed lawyer, listed 17 reasons why Victorino had ineffective counsel at trial. Among those objections: his attorney did not object to the 911 tape being played to the jury, nor did he object to instances of what Victorino says were ‘speculation” on witnesses’ part, or to prosecutors asking the jury to “imagine” what the victims felt. Victorino disputed the use of DNA evidence, unchallenged by his counsel and objected to his own attorney telling the jury that the prosecution “has done a wonderful job here” during closing arguments. Victorino also raised issues with the way his alibi was presented, and with the submission of gruesome photographs to the jury.
Parsons systematically rejected every objection, including that over the introduction of photographs of the crime scene. “There were ten people in the home at the time of these murders,” Parsons wrote. “Six of them are dead and cannot speak.” He continued: “The state had a right to prove its case with as much detail as is necessary without exposing the defendant to unreasonably gruesome photographs that would have no other reasonable purpose. These were gruesome murders, which is a fact of life. (Sic.) It would be hard to conclude that any juror was surprised by what they saw.”
Among Victorino’s accomplices, Jerone Hunter was sentenced to death and Michael Salas and Robert Cannon were convicted to life sentences.