ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A verdict has been reached in the first of over a dozen cases which Florida Gov. Rick Scott stripped from state prosecutor Aramis Ayala. Scott assigned the case of accused killer Juan Rosario to Ocala-based state attorney Brad King after Ayala declared that she would not pursue the death penalty in all future trials.
A jury found Rosario, 30, guilty of first-degree murder and arson in the death of 83-year-old Elena Ortega. The Orange County woman's body was discovered on September of 2013 inside her house, which prosecutors said had been set on fire by Rosario after he robbed her of cash and other belongings.
According to investigators, Ortega had been violently beaten by her attacker but was likely still alive after a fire ravaged her home. A medical examiner testified that soot was found around her nostrils and in her windpipe.
It was testimony from his then-girlfriend, Janet Gutierrez, that convinced a jury to convict Rosario. She told the court that she was awakened by Rosario who told her he had killed Ortega but still needed to return to the scene to set the fire.
Jurors will reconvene in a month to determine if Rosario should be put to death. Under new requirements, their recommendation would have to be unanimous.