Man convicted in slayings of four
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 12, 2006
BARTOW - A jury found an Ecuadorean businessman guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the 1997 shootings of four people in the worst mass slaying in Polk County's history.
A jury deliberated about six hours before finding Nelson Ivan Serrano, 68, guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a former business partner and three bystanders at a Bartow garment conveyor factory on Dec. 3, 1997.
George Gonsalves, 69; Frank Dosso, 35; Diane Patisso, 28; and George Patisso Jr., 26, were all shot multiple times.
Prosecutors said Serrano wanted revenge over a business partnership that had turned sour.
Serrano had been partners with Gonsalves and Felice Dosso, father of Frank Dosso and Diane Patisso, until a dispute over finances led to his dismissal as company president in the summer of 1997.
Diane Patisso was a Polk County prosecutor.
Serrano hung his head as Circuit Judge Susan Roberts read the verdict.
The victims' families wept quietly in the back of the courtroom.
Outside the courtroom later, Felice Dosso, who found the bodies on the night of the slayings, said, "At least I got justice for my kids. I wish he would burn to death. I am against the death penalty, but in this condition right now I can think no differently.
"Nobody's got the right to take somebody's life," he added.
"Four lives were wasted."
Assistant State Attorney John Aguero told jurors that Serrano devised an elaborate plot to kill Gonsalves and leave himself with an alibi almost 500 miles away.
Dosso and Frank and Diane Patisso were killed just because they were there, Aguero said.
Serrano claimed he was in Atlanta on business at the time.
Security videotapes showed his presence at a hotel there about five hours before and five hours after the crime.
But prosecutors produced a parking stub issued in Orlando that day with Serrano's fingerprints on it.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The sentencing phase of the trial begins Tuesday.