Jury Recommends Death in Florida Ninja Slaying
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A jury has recommended that a karate instructor get the death penalty for murdering a wealthy Florida couple while their nine special-needs children cowered or slept nearby.
The jurors voted 10-2 Friday that Patrick Gonzalez Jr. be executed for last year's killing of Byrd and Melanie Billings in their Florida Panhandle home.
Under Florida law, Judge Nickolas Geeker will impose the final sentence. But he must give the jury's recommendation "great weight."
Gonzalez is a 36-year-old father of six.
Gonzalez's coconspirators testified that he told them that a safe in the home contained $13 million.
The invaders, who were dressed as ninjas, did steal a safe but it contained nothing of value. A second safe they missed contained $164,000.