DELAND, Fla. – When he was 16 years old, the suspected ringleader of a home invasion last week that left six people dead promised he would never commit another crime if a judge was lenient on an auto theft charge he faced.
"I never want to return here again," Troy Victorino (search) wrote the judge in 1993 in a letter from the Volusia County Correctional Facility.
But the judge sentenced him to four years in prison and two years of house arrest, according to court records released Tuesday. Over the next few years, Victorino repeatedly returned to jail and prison.
Victorino, 27, is now back behind bars. He and three teenage co-defendants were charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing and bludgeoning to death six people Friday in a Deltona house — apparently over an Xbox (search) video game system.
Victorino has a long criminal past. He was out of prison by January 1996, but was arrested again less than three months later for savagely beating an acquaintance with a stick, an aggravated battery.
In June 1996, he violated terms of his house arrest and was sentenced to six months of electronic monitoring. A month later, he was found to be in violation again and was sentenced to another five years in prison.
In 1997, a jury convicted him of the aggravated battery charge and he got another five-year sentence. He was released last October after serving that term plus time for probation violation. In all, he has spent eight of the last 11 years in prison.
His mother, in a letter to the judge before one of his sentencing in 1996, said her son was sexually abused by a caregiver's son starting at age 2, an ordeal that "led to emotional scars that very few can fathom." Sharon Victorino said her son had been treated for depression since age 8 and had attempted suicide.
"In a matter of a few days, you will be seeing before you my son... He will stand before you at 6-foot-6 tall, looking very much like a man," Sharon Victorino wrote. "In actuality, Troy is but a boy."
Victorino was arrested July 29 on a felony battery charge, accused of punching a man over a car debt. He was released on $2,500 bond and visited his probation officer for his regular check-in the day before Friday's murders.
He should have been arrested then for violating his probation, said state officials who fired Victorino's probation officer and three of his supervisors Monday.
Police said the killings were the culmination of an argument between Victorino and one of the victims, Erin Belanger, 22. Authorities say the source of the dispute was an Xbox video game system and clothes owned by Victorino but taken to Belanger's apartment.
The murders took on political overtones Tuesday as a lawmaker said a judge likely wouldn't have released Victorino on the $2,500 bond had he known his previous criminal history.
Rep. Kevin Ambler, a Republican, who in 2003 sponsored a bill that would require more information be given to judges about defendants during their first court appearance, blamed his own Republican House leadership for failing to make the measure a priority. He also pointed to a bill he filed this year that would have allowed judges to order electronic monitoring for defendants released on bail.
"The Florida Senate passed the bill, only to have the Florida House of Representatives (search) under outgoing Speaker Johnnie Byrd (search) block its passage, which may have led directly to these unfortunate deaths," Ambler said in a statement.
Wayne Garcia, campaign manager for Byrd's U.S. Senate campaign, responded in a statement that any suggestion that Byrd wasn't committed to law enforcement was "ridiculous." Byrd is one of seven Republicans seeking the GOP Senate nomination in the Aug. 31 primary.