ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A jury has found a former apartment complex security guard guilty in the first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery of a resident of the building that he was tasked to protect.
The decision came after five days of testimony and evidence which state prosecutors presented in their case against Steven Duxbury, 35. Duxbury was also convicted on a burglary charge.
In 2015, Sasha Samsudean, 27, was found deceased on her bed inside her apartment at Uptown Place in Downtown Orlando. Detectives said her body was rolled up in a comforter. Her shirt and bra had been ripped and her larynx crushed, investigators said.
The sentencing phase immediately followed, during which time, family members of Samsudean were invited to speak.
"She died a horrible, horrible death," said the victim's mother, Tara Samsudean, in a statement read before the court. "What he has done is broke the chain that we had as a family of four."
"Life is not made up of the number of breaths you take. Life is made up of the number of moments that take your breath away. Boy, she took my breath away," said the victim's father, Ken Samsudean. "Physically, she might be gone, but the memories aren't going to die."
No witnesses spoke on behalf of Duxbury, when prompted by Judge Lisa Munyon, who then then handed down a life sentence.
Duxbury told detectives that Samsudean was drunk that night, didn’t have her keys, and after being locked out of her apartment complex, she followed another resident through a security gate.
In the recorded police interview played for the jury, Duxbury said after he watched her fail to get the code right to get through her electronically-locked door, she somehow got inside her front door after he had walked away. During the interview, he also told detectives that he might have seen her again that night.
“I think I saw her again at some time, later on in the evening. Nothing suspicious about what she and the gentlemen I saw her with were doing,” Duxbury told the detective.
With the lead detective on the stand, the state allowed the jury to hear part of the interview where the detective appears to not be buying what he is being told.
"Did you ever to into apartment 345?" the detective asked. "I’m not supposed to go into apartments," Duxbury replied. "But did you?" the detective pressed Duxbury, to which he replied, "No."
On cross examination, the defense questioned evidence that was processed by the Orlando Police Department.
“Several gentlemen, Ms. Samsudean’s sex partners, did you ask all of them for DNA samples?” asked the prosecutor. “Yes,” answered Detective Toyd Montfort. “Shoe samples?” asked the prosecutor. “No,” testified Det. Montfort.
Before resting their case, the state reminded the jury that police found two finger prints belonging to Duxbury inside Samsudean’s apartment -- one on her toilet and the other on her nightstand. That’s an apartment Duxbury said he’d never ever been in, prosecutors wound up using his own words against him.
“She did not invite me into her apartment,” Duxbury could be heard telling the detective in the taped interview.
The state immediately rested its case. The defense asked the judge to for an acquittal, but the judge denied the request. With Duxbury's consent, the defense rested without ever presenting a defense or calling a single witness.