ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - In an 11-1 vote, a jury has recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a trial witness nearly three years ago during an Ocoee home invasion. A judge will make the final decision as to whether Bessman Okafor will face life in prison without parole or go to death row.
Okafor, 30, was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Alex Zaldivar, 19. Prosecutors said Okafor was the mastermind behind a plot to execute Zaldivar and his two roommates, siblings Brienna and Remington Campos, from testifying against him in a separate home invasion case.
There were a few tense moments outside the Orange County Courthouse following the jury's decision, as Orange County deputies attempted to keep the peace between the families of Okafor and Zaldivar.
"Bessman Okafor is nothing less than a sadistic, repulsive [expletive]," said Alex's father, Rafael. "I want him dead. I want him to feel the same what he did to our son. He tortured him for 15 minutes! Fifteen minutes he tortured him and then he shot him right in the back of the head twice! I want nothing but death for this man."
It took the jury just over three hours to arrive at their decision, which did not come as a surprise to Okafor's family.
"We prayed to God, but we already knew what was going to happen," said family member Brenton James, "but it ain't over. We're prepared for the fight."