A man charged with killing six people for revenge over an Xbox video game system said Thursday that he hit some of the victims with a baseball bat but didn’t strike any of them in the head.
Jerone Hunter, 20, was the second of three defendants to testify.
Troy Victorino, a 29-year-old believed to be the ringleader, said Wednesday that he was innocent and was at a bar with friends during the killings in August 2004. Attorneys for the third man, Michael Salas, were to begin their case late Thursday.
Blood from three of the victims was found on Victorino’s boots, a DNA expert testified this week. Salas and Hunter previously told authorities they had beaten some of the victims.
Hunter testified that he was intimidated by Victorino, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound former prison inmate with a violent criminal record. He said he feared Victorino might harm him or his family if he was betrayed.
Hunter said he did not know they were going to the Deltona house to kill the victims, two of whom he knew. He said he thought they were picking up the Xbox and other items the defendants had left behind when they were evicted as squatters in another home belonging to a grandmother of one of the victims, Erin Belanger.
Victorino kicked in the front door, then entered the house yelling, “Where’s my stuff?” Hunter testified. He said Victorino started swinging when victim Jonathan Gleason, 17, replied, “I don’t know.”
Victorino hit Gleason from behind with a bat, on top of his head, Hunter said.
Hunter said Victorino was the only attacker who went into a bedroom where Belanger, 22, and her boyfriend were sleeping. The two died from strikes to their heads, and Belanger was sexually mutilated, autopsies found.
A few minutes after the attackers left, Victorino said he wanted to go back to the house, Hunter testified. He said Victorino entered alone with a switchblade knife and returned a few minutes later, wiping blood on his shirt.
Medical examiner Thomas Beaver has testified that the victims died from the bat attacks and that most of the stabbing and cutting came after they died.
The three defendants are each charged with six counts of first-degree murder.
A fourth man, Robert Anthony Cannon, 20, pleaded guilty in October in a deal with prosecutors. But when he took the stand last week, he refused to testify and said he wanted to withdraw his plea. The judge has not decided whether he will allow it.
During his testimony Thursday, Hunter described seeing Cannon fighting with one of the victims and striking him.