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Last of four charged in six slayings pleads not guilty

By Associated Press
Published September 15, 2004

DAYTONA BEACH - The last of the four men accused of beating six people to death with aluminum baseball bats over a video game system appeared in court Monday to plead not guilty to charges including first-degree murder.

His attorney entered the plea for Robert Anthony Cannon, 18, who Volusia County sheriff's investigators say has confessed. Cannon sat at the defense table hunched over slightly with his shaved head bowed during much of the arraignment.

Attorneys for Cannon's three co-defendants submitted written not-guilty pleas in advance for their clients. Sheriff's investigators have said Michael Salas and Jerone Hunter, both 18, also confessed to the slayings at a Deltona home Aug. 6 and implicated suspected ringleader Troy Victorino, 27, who has not confessed.

The four were each charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, abuse of a dead human body with a weapon and armed burglary. They also were charged with cruelty to animals for killing a small dog that was in the house.

Assistant State Attorney Raul Zambrano said his office would push for a speedy trial. Prosecutors plan to try the four men together and seek the death penalty for all four. Circuit Judge William Parsons hasn't set a trial date.

Cannon's attorney, Robert Sanders, said after Monday's hearing he was considering whether to try to have Cannon's confession suppressed. The defense lawyers, all appointed by the court, were reviewing the evidence and devising individual strategies.

The slayings came a few days after 22-year-old Erin Belanger called police to have squatters including Victorino evicted from her grandparents' vacant house. Belanger took some clothes and an X-box they had left behind. Investigators said Victorino organized the attack to retrieve the items.

[Last modified September 15, 2004, 01:08:22]

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