Opening statements in trial of man accused of killing three family members

Opening arguments and testimony began Tuesday in the murder trial of a Seminole County man who’s accused of killing three of his family members.

Grant Amato was arrested in January after his father, mother and brother were found dead in their Chuluota home.

In his opening statement, prosecutor Stewart Stone provided a timeline of the killings and accused Amato of staging a murder-suicide. 

He also spoke of the alleged motive, which the state says was Amato’s online obsession.

“Became addicted to her, consumed with her, possessed by her to the point that he was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of the family’s money on her,” Stone said in court.

Investigators say Amato stole around $200,000 from his family to pay for his interactions with a Bulgarian woman he met on an adult website.

They say he lied to her about his job and wealth.

“When his parents found out about his "relationship" with Silvi and the tremendous amount of money that he was spending on her, they contacted her and they let her know the lies he was telling her,” Stone said.

The end of the so-called relationship is why prosecutors say Amato killed his family – Chad, Margaret and Cody. 

Deputies say the three were shot execution-style, and Amato had recently been kicked out of the house.

“That was the end of the world. Nothing to live for,” Stone said.

Amato’s defense attorney, Jared Shapiro, says there was no bad blood.

“He had no motive whatsoever to kill his family members. The evidence will show that relation between Mr. Amato and his parents and brother will show a clear lack of motive. There was absolutely no friction,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro also told jurors that there was a lack of DNA evidence in the case and that his client didn’t have access to any guns at the time of the murders.

“If not Grant than who is not a legally sufficient argument to convict Mr. Amato in this case,” Shapiro said.

The state also called up its first witnesses Tuesday. 

That included a friend of Cody Amato, Grant Amato’s brother and members of law enforcement.