Two of the men charged with murdering six people in a revenge slaying over an Xbox video game system testified Thursday that they hit some of victims with baseball bats, but denied inflicting the fatal blows.
Jerone Hunter and Michael Salas, both 20, told jurors they participated in the attacks, but did not hit any of the victims in the head.
Their testimony followed that of Troy Victorino, 29, who was believed to ringleader in the Deltona attacks. Victorino testified Wednesday that he was at a bar with friends when the slayings occurred in August 2004.
Blood from three of the victims was found on Victorino's boots, a DNA expert testified this week.
Bootprints also linked Victorino to the crime scene. Salas and Hunter previously told authorities that they had beaten some of the victims.
Salas, whose voice sometimes broke with emotion during testimony, denied responsibility for the killings.
"I did not kill anybody in that house. I didn't hit anybody in the head. I did not hit anybody in the face. I'm not guilty. I had no blood on me," Salas said.
He said Victorino and Hunter were the real killers, and that Hunter even bragged about it.
Both Hunter and Salas testified they didn't kill anyone and that they were intimidated by Victorino, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound former prison inmate with a violent criminal record. Hunter said he feared Victorino might harm him or his family if he was betrayed.
"He told me and Cannon, 'Y'all two just keep your mouth shut. You call the man on me, and I'm going to take you out the game,'" Salas said.
State Attorney John Tanner repeatedly asked Salas why he didn't leave when he learned of the slaying plans.
"If I didn't help him, he would probably hurt me, too," Salas said.
"Hunter, a star wrestler in high school, said he did not know they were going to the Deltona house to kill the victims, two of whom he knew. He said he thought they were picking up the Xbox and other items the defendants left when they were evicted from being squatters in another home belonging to Erin Belanger's grandmother.
Victorino kicked in the front door of the house, where Belanger and the five other victims were, Hunter said.
Hunter entered the house yelling, "Where's my stuff?" When victim Jonathan Gleason, 17, replied, "I don't know." Hunter then allegedly started swinging, he said.
Victorino came up from behind and hit Gleason on top of his head with a bat. Victorino was the only attacker who went into a bedroom where Belanger, 22, and her boyfriend, Francisco Ayo-Roman, 30, were sleeping, Hunter testified.
They died from multiple strikes to their heads and Belanger was sexually mutilated, autopsies found.
Hunter said he saw defendant Robert Anthony Cannon, also 20, fighting with victim Anthony Vega, who was armed with a stick.
He testified that Hunter struck Vega in the shoulder with a bat, causing him to drop the stick. Cannon and Victorino then hit Vega, Hunter said.
While Hunter denied killing anyone, Salas said Hunter beat victim Roberto Gonzalez, 28, with a baseball bat.
"He started hitting him and hitting him and he wouldn't stop," Salas said.
Salas said Hunter told him that he had found victim Michelle Nathan in the closet and had attacked her with a knife and baseball bat.
A few minutes after the attacks and the four defendants had left, Victorino said he wanted to go back to the house, Hunter said.
Hunter said Victorino entered with a switchblade knife and went into the house alone, returning a few minutes later, wiping blood on his dark sweat shirt.
Medical Examiner Thomas Beaver has testified that the victims died from skull fractures and brain injuries and that most of the stabbing and cutting came after they died.
If the three men are convicted of first-degree murder, Chief Circuit Judge Bill Parsons said he will wait a day before starting the penalty phase of the trial, in which jurors would have to recommend either life in prison or death by lethal injection.
In addition to six charges of first-degree murder, the men face charges of mutilating a dead body and other felonies.
The court is not in session Friday and closing arguments are expected to begin Monday.
Cannon, 20, pleaded guilty in October to all the charges. But when he took the stand last week, he refused to testify and said he wanted to withdraw his plea. He said he was innocent. Parsons hasn't decided whether he will allow the change.
- July 19, 2006: 'Ringleader' Of Xbox Murders Takes Stand In His Defense
- July 18, 2006: State: Victims' Blood On Defendant's Bat, Boots
- July 17, 2006: Investigator: 2 Defendants Admit Beating 6 People Who Were Killed
- July 14, 2006: Judge Denies Mistrial In Xbox Slaying Case
- July 13, 2006: Star Witness In Alleged Xbox Slayings 'Can Say No More'
- July 12, 2006: Prosecutor Details 6 Grisly Slayings In 'Xbox Murder Trial'
- July 5, 2006: St. Johns Jurors Being Chosen To Hear Xbox Murder Trial
- April 10, 2006: Judge Rules Suspect In Deltona Slayings Competent To Stand Trial
- April 10, 2006: Trial Of Six In 'X-Box' Murders Starts Today
- March 2, 2006: Judge Says Deltona Slayings Trial Will Remain In Volusia County
- March 24, 2005: Judge Seals Crime Scene, Autopsy Photos From Deltona Massacre
- February 21, 2005: Accused Ringleader In Deltona Slayings Says He Was Passed Out
- January 7, 2005: Witness In Deltona Slayings Says He Wants to Testify At Trial
- September 29, 2004: Deltona House Where 6 Were Killed Is Up For Sale
- September 14, 2004: Last Of 4 Accused In Deltona Slayings Pleads Not Guilty
- August 9, 2004: Men Accused In Brutal Slayings Denied Bond
- August 7, 2004: Six People Found Dead In Deltona Home