A Miami-Dade grand jury has indicted five people in the horrific machete murder of a Homestead teenager.
All five, who were students along with the victim at Homestead Job Corps, lured the 17 year-old victim out into the woods and murdered him with machetes. They disposed of the body in a shallow grave.
The grand jury determined that the group had planned the murder for several weeks. The motive that prosecutors believe is the reason behind the slaying is that the victim allegedly owed money to one of the accused murderers.
Since the five have been indicted for first-degree murder (premeditated murder), they are eligible for the death penalty because all of the accused murderers are eighteen and older. Defendants under eighteen cannot be eligible for the death penalty.
Being charged with first-degree murder means that you are death penalty eligible, but the State Attorney’s Office must determine whether they are going to seek the death penalty.
In this case, the manner of death was arguable “heinous, atrocious, and cruel,” and there was careful planning and forethought. The victim was a minor and may have been killed to satisfy a debt. All are aggravating factors which may persuade the State to seek the death penalty.
In Miami-Dade County, death penalty cases typically drag on for years, in some cases five to seven.
All suspects will remain in jail on these non-bondable charges. One suspect is out of the state but will be extradited back to Florida.
Eric Matheny is a Miami and Broward criminal defense attorney.