Sarah Boone loses 8th lawyer, must now represent herself in Florida murder trial, judge rules

Sarah Boone, the Florida woman accused of killing her boyfriend by locking him inside a suitcase at their Winter Park home during an alleged game of hide-and-seek, has forfeited her right to any more court-appointed defense lawyers – and will now have to represent herself at her trial, according to the judge overseeing her case.

It has been more than four years since Boone was charged with second-degree murder in the February 2020 death of her then-boyfriend, Jorge Torres Jr.

In those four years, Boone has reportedly had nine lawyers – 7 of those court-appointed – who all eventually asked to withdraw for various reasons, including irreconcilable differences, ethical differences, or conflict, according to court documents.

RELATED: Florida woman charged in suitcase murder has gone through 7 lawyers, court docs reveal

"It has become apparent to the court that the defendant will not permit herself to be represented by anyone," Judge Michael S. Kaynick said in his latest order, allowing Boone's most recent court-appointed lawyer to withdraw from the case.

In a status conference in early June, Boone told the judge that she was unhappy with her latest court-appointed lawyer, accusing her of lying and having "a snotty attitude," among other claims. That lawyer told the judge that Boone had walked out of at least two conferences between them.

"I feel she is untruthful with me and full-blown prejudiced against me, which I believe adds to her nasty attitude towards me, and I do not trust her," Boone told Circuit Court Judge Michael Kraynick. "Everyone constantly, constantly, constantly blames me, that I am the reason why I am supposedly going on attorney number eight, which I am not the reason for any of them."

"I know the court's in a difficult position, but at this point, we're at that impasse of, if she walks out of every conference that I have with her, I'm not sure what that says about the attorney-client relationship," Boone's lawyer responded. "I've spent probably 20 hours – a little bit more, a little bit less with Ms. Boone. She has lots of lists, lots of questions."

Boone then submitted a 58-page handwritten letter detailing a litany of complaints and concerns surrounding her case. Patricia Cashman, Boone's then lawyer, filed a motion requesting to withdraw from the case days later, which was later approved.

Why did Sarah Boone forfeit her right to a court-appointed attorney?

Judge Kraynick said Boone forfeited her right to court-appointed counsel and had "waived by her conduct" her right to counsel, according to the order. The judge justified the decision, noting that Boone had previously been warned that a future court-appointed lawyer may not be provided and that she had been warned about the "dangers of self-representation." 

"Actions speak louder than words," Judge Kraynick said.

"Although defendant’s words seemingly reveal a desire to go to trial, however, as set forth herein, her actions and inability to work with court-appointed counsel, are repeated over and over. Allowing defendant to her eighth court appointed attorney (her ninth attorney overall) will only serve to delay the case further and encourage defendant to persist in efforts to prevent the resolution of the case on its merits," he said.

As part of the order, Judge Kraynick said Boone's former lawyer would provide transcriptions of depositions conducted with two witnesses and deliver them to the Orange County Jail, where Boone is incarcerated pending trial.

He also made clear that a trial management conference scheduled for Sept. 24, and the two-week trial, scheduled to start on Oct. 7, 2024, would "remain specially set" and would not be changed, barring "extraordinarily good cause."

"Good cause shall not include retention of counsel by the defendant," the order read. It was not immediately clear if that meant Boone could hire her own private attorney to represent her.


Sarah Boone's letters: What does she say?

In her 58-page letter to the judge in early June, Sarah Boone presented more than 30 questions/concerns to the judge and lawyer in her case regarding bond, medical records, case materials, witness lists, and investigators, etc.

"I very much want to advance to the next level after ongoing 5 years now, a genuine concerned limit has been reached. Why am I still not being included in my case, how much more of my case and self is being added hourly (especially after this letter gets loose) to the internet, increasing the mass infection and destruction of my hopes to have a fair trial, anything fair, my side foremost, and wondering now if my attorney ‘drank the punch,' like everyone else," reads an excerpt from page five.

Boone signed the letter with her name, a hand-drawn heart, followed by the words: "confused cat' meme. Yes. Thank you."

Excerpt from 58-page letter written by Sarah Boone and submitted to the judge.

Boone later submitted a five-page document to the judge, claiming she was recently informed that her attorney had filed a motion to withdraw. Boone then expressed concerns about how she would get a hold of documents related to her case.

You can read Sarah Boone's letters and court order below:

Sarah Boone charged with second-degree murder. What allegedly happened?

On Feb. 24, 2020 at 1:01 p.m., Sarah Boone called 911 to report that her boyfriend, Jorge Torres Jr., was dead inside their apartment in Winter Park, Florida. She told 911 dispatchers that she and Torres were playing a game of hide-and-seek the night before and during the game, both "jokingly thought it would be funny if Jorge got in the suitcase," the arrest report stated.

Boone said she and Torres were drinking wine. At some point, she went upstairs and "passed out" in her bed, the report said. She said she woke up hours later to her cell phone ringing, went downstairs, and found Torres unresponsive and not breathing in the suitcase, according to the report.

Minutes after that 911 call, the Orange County Fire Department arrived and confirmed that Torres was dead.

The cell phone videos: "Sarah, I can't breathe, babe"

During the investigation, detectives found two videos on Boone's iPhone, which were later released. The videos appear to show Torres zipped inside the suitcase, occasionally moving, and seemingly begging Boone to let him out. In the video, it seems Boone repeatedly taunts him. 

"Sarah, I can't breathe, babe," Torres said, according to the video.

"That's on you," she responds.

"Sarah, I can't breathe," he said again.

"That's on you," Boone responds, even laughing.

According to investigators, those videos were recorded shortly after 11 p.m., and hours before Boone eventually called 911. The second video, according to the report, shows the suitcase in a different position – flipped over and now on the left side of the living room. 

According to the arrest report, the autopsy found that Torres had scratches on his back, a large scratch on his neck, bruising on his left shoulder, and bruises on his forehead from "blunt force trauma." He also had a cut on his lip, the report said.

The interrogation: ‘It was not intentional’

On Feb. 25, 2022, Boone drove to the Orange County Sheriff's Office where she spoke with detectives for nearly two hours. During that interrogation, Boone said Torres' injuries were from falling off her son's bike or from falling or running into walls.

When detectives asked her to watch the videos found on her cell phone, Boone watched for a moment and then said she did not want to watch them. She told detectives that she thought Torres could get out of the suitcase alleging that it could be unzipped from the inside.

However, detectives questioned that because in the videos, they did not see Torres' fingers reaching out of the suitcase anywhere.

"In the video, you can't see any holes. There's nowhere in that where the zipper separation you can see a hole. If there's a hole, he's pushing on it begging you to get out. We should probably see that hole," one detective said in the interrogation.

"He essentially would have been able to get out," another detective responds.

"I did not zip it all the way. I did not zip it up all the way. This is horrific, OK? Horrific. Horrific. I don't think I'll ever be right because of this," Boone said, according to the interrogation video.

"It was not intentional. I'll put my hand on the Bible. It was not intentional. I would not do that to him nor anyone else," she later said.

"But you did," a detective responds.

"Not intentional," Boone responds, adding that she thought Torres would get out.

When is Sarah Boone's trial?

According to the most recent court docket, a trial management conference is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2024. Trial is currently scheduled to begin on Oct. 7, 2024.