The murder trial of Juan Rosario begins its second week in a Orange-Osceola Circuit courtroom. The 29-year-old Floridian may get the death penalty for allegedly beating his 83-year-old neighbor Elena Ortega to death in September 2013. The victim’s body was discovered in her burned-down home, but a medical examiner ruled that she died from blunt-force trauma to the head. Investigators say the defendant stole cash, a cellphone, and a black safe.
Rosario is facing charges of first-degree murder and arson. He is already serving 18 years in prison for a 2013 home invasion robbery that happened 10 houses down from Ortega’s home. His trial is the first since Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala refused to pursue the death penalty anymore because she believes it is ineffective. Governor Rick Scott took capital cases, including Rosario’s, away from her, and gave them to special prosecutor Brad King.