Jury Returns Guilty Verdicts in Florida Turnpike Homicide Case
MAR 06 -- Mark Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Division and R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced that Danny Varela, Daniel Troya, Ricardo Sanchez, and Liana Lopez were convicted on all counts by a federal jury in West Palm Beach, after a five-week trial in Case No. 06-80171-Cr-Hurley/Vitunac. Troya and Sanchez each were convicted of five separate capital counts arising from the carjacking and subsequent murders of Jose Luis Escobedo, wife Yessica Guerrero Escobedo and their two sons, Luis Damian Escobedo, age 3 and Luis Julian Escobedo, age 4. District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley set a penalty hearing date of March 16, 2009 for the same jury to consider whether or not to sentence either or both defendants to death for the murders.
The other defendants, Danny Varela and Liana Lopez were convicted of drug and firearms related counts. Varela faces life in prison as a result of prior narcotics convictions. Lopez faces a mandatory minimum of fifteen (15) years in prison, up to life in prison for her role in the wide-ranging narcotics conspiracy. All defendants have been held without bond since their arrests on October 25, 2006. No sentencing date has been set by the Court.
Mr. Acosta commended the detailed and collaborative investigative work of the DEA, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the City of West Palm Beach Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that led to the successful prosecutions. The case was prosecuted in West Palm Beach by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Carlton and John S. Kastrenakes, along with Richard Burns from the Department of Justice, Capital Crimes Unit.