TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a wide-ranging appeal by a Death Row inmate who was accused of being the ringleader in the murders of six people in a Central Florida home -- a case that became known as the "Xbox murders."
Troy Victorino challenged his convictions and death sentences, focusing heavily on whether he received ineffective legal representation before going to Death Row. In part, Victorino contended that his trial attorneys should have sought a mistrial when another defendant in the case, Robert Cannon, refused to be cross-examined after giving some testimony against Victorino.
But the justices found that Cannon's refusal to be cross-examined did not cause such harm that it warranted a new trial in the killings, which happened at a home on Deltona's Telford Lane.
"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."
The August 2004 murders drew national attention, at least in part because of their gruesome nature and the number of victims. Also, the case became known as the "Xbox murders" because it involved a dispute about some of Victorino's belongings, including an Xbox video-game system.
Victorino and three other men were accused of breaking into the house and bludgeoning the victims with baseball bats. Now 36, Victorino was convicted on six counts of first-degree murder, along with other charges.
Co-defendant Jerone Hunter was sentenced to death, while two others, Cannon and Michael Salas, received life sentences. The victims, who were discovered in various rooms of the blood-stained house, were Erin Belanger, Roberto Gonzalez, Michelle Nathan, Anthony Vega, Jonathon Gleason and Francisco Ayo-Roman.
The Supreme Court in 2009 upheld Victorino's convictions and death sentences in what is known as a "direct" appeal. But Thursday's ruling dealt with a subsequent appeal involving issues such as Victorino's legal representation.
Copyright 2013 by The News Service of Florida. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.