Florida Supreme Court upholds death sentence for 2016 Polk Co. triple murder

Polk County

(Photo: Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a man convicted for a 2016 triple homicide in Lakeland. The ruling affirmed the convictions and sentences for Johnathan Alcegaire, one of three men involved in the murders.

Alcegaire, 26-years-old at the time of the murders, was one of three men charged in connection to the case, where David Washington, Eneida “Stacey” Branch, and Angelica Castro were murdered on Jan. 6, 2016.

A fourth victim, Felix Campos, survived the shooting.

Court documents show that on the morning of Jan. 6, Washington, Branch, Castro and Campos were home after returning a short trip to Miami. The record says that around 6 a.m. that morning, a van pulled up in the driveway of the Lakeland home and three men got out, before knocking on the door.

Washington got up and let them in, where the men spoke before one of the men, Jamaal Smith, walked into Campos’ bedroom and shot him in the face with a nine-millimeter firearm.

Andrew Joseph, Alcegaire’s brother, was also present in the house and participated in the events that followed.

Smith reportedly left Campos’s bedroom while he “bled profusely” while still in bed and counted money belonging to Washington while beating him with a stool.

Campos heard gunshots in the other rooms where Castro and Branch were. The court record shows that Campos heard one of the women say “You shot me” before he heard another gunshot.

The three men, Alcegaire, Smith and Joseph, “ransacked” the house and took multiple items with them, such as electronic devices and the victims’ cell phones. Before they left, Smith returned to Campos’s bedroom.

Campos played dead as Smith returned to his room. When the three men left, Campos found his housemates all dead, went to get help from a neighbor, and called 911. He was in the hospital for several days while being treated for his injuries.

Autopsies of all three victims showed they died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the court record.

Dr. Steven Nelson, the chief medical examiner for Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties testified that Washington had abrasions, contusions and lacerations consistent with a beating, in addition to two gunshot wounds, one in his neck and one to his head.

Branch had two gunshot wounds, one behind her left ear and one in her right cheek. The shot behind the ear is what killed her, according to Nelson, the record says.

Castro was killed by “a single distant nine-millimeter gunshot wound to the back of the head.” The record says her gunshot wound was consistent with being facedown on the ground, according to Nelson.

Following the investigation, the three suspects were charged and tried.

Alcegaire was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of all three victims, Washington, Branch and Castro, as well as the attempted first-degree murder of Campos, burglary of a dwelling with assault and/or battery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and robbery.

For his charges and guilty conviction, Alcegaire was sentenced to death for each of the murders, plus life imprisonment for the attempted murder of Felix Campos, the burglary charge and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, 30 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, five years for tampering with physical evidence, and 15 years for robbery.

Based on the weight of the evidence submitted, which included video of the suspects at the apartment complex the victims lived at, data from cell phone records, the victim impact evidence, what the court documents describe as a need for justice by the victims, and the judge ruling that errors alleged by the defense were not, in fact, errors, Alcegaire’s appeal was rejected.

With his appeal rejected, Alcegaire will face the death penalty following his multi-year imprisonment resulting from the guilty verdicts in the case.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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