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Episode 100: Alex Zaldivar murder trial

  In May 2013, Bessman Okafor and Nolan Bernard broke into a home in a quiet suburb of Ococee, Florida, after misidentifying it as a “drug house.” When it was clear they had the wrong place, the men tied up the house’s four young roommates: included Alex Zaldivar, 19, and Brienna Campos, 20, and their two friends Will and Brandon. The youngsters were threatened with guns, and robbed of their cash, laptops, cellphones, and electronics. Police quickly identified Okafor and Bernard, who were arrested and released on bond.

A trial date was set for September 11, 2013, and the four young victims were listed as witnesses. One day before the trial, Okafor and Bernard returned to the house in the middle of the night and woke up the sleeping inhabitants, Alex Zaldivar, Brienna Campos, and her 23-year-old brother Remington, who were lined up and shot in the head. Alex was killed, but Brienna and Remington survived. A jury found the gunman, Bessman Okafor, guilty of Alex Zaldivar’s murder and the attempted murder of his two roommates, and recommended the death penalty by a vote of 11-1. But the case was overturned because the jury was not unanimous, and Okafor is waiting for retrial.

This episode contains State witnesses from Okafor’s murder trial in August 2015: Amy Scott, a neighbor to whom Remington and Brienna ran for help; officer Daniel Schilling, who investigated the crime, and victim Brienna Campos.

Listen to the episode here.