Jerone Hunter signed drawing
Jerone Hunter signed drawing
The Deltona massacre (commonly referred to as the "Xbox Murders") was a residential murder which occurred on August 6, 2004, at a home on Telford Lane in Deltona, Florida, United States. Four men broke into the home and bludgeoned six victims to death. The four attackers, apparently inspired by the movie Wonderland, tortured and killed four men, two women, and a dog inside the home, making it the bloodiest mass murder in Volusia County history. Their motive was revenge on Erin Belanger, who evicted one of the attackers from her grandmother's house, and the recovery of belongings including an Xbox game console.
A jury found Troy Victorino, Robert Cannon, Jerone Hunter, and Michael Salas guilty of the massacre in August 2006. Seventh Circuit Judge William A. Parsons upheld the jury's death penalty recommendation and called the killings "conscienceless" and "unnecessarily torturous." He told each of the men during back-to-back sentencing hearings, "You have not only forfeited your right to live among us, you have forfeited your right to live at all." The attackers had also intended to kill another person who happened not to be at the house.
Victorino and Hunter were among a group squatting on Belanger's grandparents' property while they were away. The group was using the property as a party house. Belanger, who had moved to Florida to look after her grandparents' home, had deputies evict the squatters and boxed up belongings left behind.
Victorino reasoned that Belanger and her housemates had "robbed" him of his Xbox and other belongings. Victorino told witnesses that, in the days before the killings, Belanger disrespected him by calling police when he tried to get his belongings. "He claims he is a Latin King, he is this big gang leader and they basically disrespected him and he had to deal with that because they couldn't treat a King like that," said the witness.
One week before the murders, Victorino fired a gun in a car near the home on Telford Lane. That gun was supposed to be used for the murders, but the suspects couldn't find enough ammunition, so they rounded up about 15 baseball bats from neighborhood children instead.
Two days before the massacre, a clerk at the New Smyrna Beach Wal-Mart witnessed Victorino and his co-conspirators "laughing and giggling and being rowdy" at the store. The clerk told Volusia sheriff's investigators that she had a feeling the men "were up to no good" after spotting them in the store with baseball bats in hand.
She said Cannon told the others, "We could take this bat and swing it and knock 'em over the head and crush their skull in." Salas then jumped in, the clerk told investigators, and said: "I got a better idea. . . . We could bash 'em in the face and knock their teeth down their throat."
Victorino had been arrested July 29, 2004 for assaulting another man, but posted bail the next day. Richard Burrow, Victorino's probation officer, was notified of the arrest and was required to file a report to a judge detailing the arrest within 48 hours. This report could have sent Victorino back to jail on a probation violation. Paul Hayes, Burrow's supervisor, did not receive the report until August 4, and a judge did not receive it until August 6, after the massacre. In addition, Victorino met with Burrow on August 5. At this point, Burrow had the legal authority to conduct a "warrant-less" arrest on Victorino, and according to department officials should have done so. Instead, Victorino remained free. As a result, Hayes and Burrow were fired on August 9, along with two top administrators.
Jonathan Gleason was on the recliner when the men stormed the house, and was fatally stabbed in the neck by Hunter. Victorino beat Anthony Vega to death with an aluminum bat. Tito was murdered by Hunter, who fatally beat him in the head with a bat and stabbed him multiple times in the chest and stomach.
After Belanger was beaten to death, Troy Victorino sexually abused her body. Francisco "Flaco" Ayo-Roman was bludgeoned and stabbed in the throat by Victorino in the master bedroom near his girlfriend, Michelle Ann Nathan, who hid in a closet until discovered by Hunter who bludgeoned and stabbed her to death.
Belanger's pet dachshund, George, was intentionally stomped to death during the attack.
The month-long jury trial was moved from Volusia due to concerns that media coverage made a fair jury trial impossible, and was held at the Richard O. Watson Judicial Center in St. Augustine, Florida, after two years of preparation. The $1.5 million in legal defense fees were a 7th Circuit record.
The trial came to an end on August 2, 2006, when 7th Circuit Judge William Parsons sentenced Victorino and Hunter to death by lethal injection, and Cannon and Salas to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Victorino and Hunter are carrying out their sentences in one-person cells on Death Row at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida. The average length of incarceration of a Florida inmate prior to execution is 12.86 years.
Victorino was found guilty of first-degree murder of all six victims, abuse of a dead human body, armed burglary of a dwelling, and animal cruelty. At trial, he claimed he was drinking at a bar when the murders occurred. Victorino contended that the size-12 bloody boots presented at trial were his, someone must have stolen them from him before committing the murders.
Salas was found guilty of first-degree murder of all six victims, conspiring to commit aggravated battery, tampering with physical evidence, and armed burglary of a dwelling.
Hunter was also found guilty of first-degree murder of all six victims, conspiring to commit aggravated battery, tampering with physical evidence, abuse of a dead human body, and armed burglary of a dwelling. He closed his eyes as the first "guilty" verdict was read, and stared straight ahead as he was further condemned to death. Hunter was at one point the youngest inmate on death row in Florida, and is currently the second-youngest. A September 2008 appeal by Hunter was rejected
Cannon was sentenced to six life terms without parole for the murders, life for armed burglary of a dwelling with a weapon, five years for conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, murder, armed burglary of a dwelling and tampering with physical evidence, 15 years each for five counts of abuse of a dead human body, and five years for cruelty to an animal.
The drawing is signed