'Xbox murder' trio convicted

Life in prison or death by lethal injection yet to be decided for men who were found guilty of murdering six after a game console was taken.


Three men on trial in Florida for the murder of six people have been found guilty of first-degree murder today. The jury's decision concludes the "Xbox Murders" case, which began almost two weeks ago.

The case stems from a 2004 incident in which Troy Victorino, 29, Michael Salas, and Jerone Hunter, both 20, entered a house where Erin Belanger, 22, and five friends were sleeping and proceeded to kill them with baseball bats.

The prosecution argued that Victorino was infuriated when Belanger asked him to leave her grandmother's house, where he had been staying. Belanger held on to some of Victorino's belongings, which included an Xbox, further enraging Victorino, who gathered three accomplices to carry out the murders.

"That man," state attorney John Tanner said, pointing to Victorino, "killed these people because he was in a rage, a slow-boiling rage that finally boiled over," according to a video on CNN.

The defense for Salas and Hunter attempted to portray Victorino as the ringleader, saying that they were involved in the beatings, but that the six-foot-seven-inch Victorino intimidated them and coerced them into their actions. Hunter's attorney even compared Victorino to Charles Manson.

Victorino claimed he was out with friends drinking when the murders took place, but forensic evidence found blood that matched that of the victims on Victorino's shoes.

The jury will reconvene and determine whether the three men will be sentenced to life in prison or be given the death penalty by lethal injection.

The fourth member of the group, 20-year-old Robert Cannon, made a plea bargain with prosecutors to testify against Victorino in exchange for a lesser charge, but he withdrew his plea on the first day of the proceedings. His fate will be determined in a separate trial.

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