ORLANDO, Fla. – Kay Shukwit is still trying to cope with the August 2004 deaths of her daughter and five of the young woman's friends, who prosecutors said were beaten to death with aluminum bats over an Xbox video game system.
"I'm living with the loss. I'm living with the horror, with all the thoughts and everything and I still can't believe what's going on," said Shukwit, whose daughter, Michelle Nathan, was 19 years old.
Jury selection is set for Monday in Deland for three of the four men charged with the beating deaths.
Prosecutors allege Troy Victorino, 29, Robert Cannon and Michael Salas, both 20, and Jerone Hunter, 19, organized the attack to retrieve an Xbox video game system that Victorino lost when he was kicked out of a different house in Deltona.
The victims, some of whom were sleeping, did not resist or try to escape the attack, investigators said.
Salas, Victorino and Hunter are charged with six counts of murder and eight other felonies. Cannon already has pleaded guilty and will receive life in prison in exchange for his testimony. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for the remaining defendants.
"We think it's an appropriate punishment for this case and that's what we hope to end up with," said prosecutor Leah Case. "I'm hoping that the families will get some sense of closure with this trial."
Defense attorneys sought unsuccessfully to move the trial to South Florida, arguing that the media has depicted Victorino as the ringleader.
"He's been sitting here listening to all the other people in the courtroom pounce on him and blame him for everything," Victorino's lawyer, Jeff Dowdey, said Friday.
The victims, who all worked at a local Burger King, also included Erin Belanger, 22, Francisco Ayo-Roman, 30, Anthony Vega, 34, Roberto Gonzalez, 28, and Jonathan Gleason, 17.
Investigators said they had been terrorized for several days over the Xbox, which Victorino had left at another Deltona house where he had been squatting. The game system was taken by Belanger when she cleared Victorino's things out of her grandparents' winter house.
Shukwit said she dreads hearing the gruesome details of the crime in court.
"Granted they're going to be using pretty graphic, gory pictures from the crime scene and that's going to be something that I'm going to have to see," she said.