Mastermind in Killing of Florida Couple Convicted
October 29, 2010
(ChattahBox U.S. News) – A jury yesterday convicted karate teacher Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. of first-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of Byrd and Melanie Billings, a Florida couple shot and killed while their nine adopted special needs children were in the house. Prosecutors in the case asserted that Gonzalez, a father of six, murdered the couple after dressing a team of men that he assembled in ninja garb to rob the Billings’ house of what he believed was $13 million, the Huffington Post reports.
While assembling his team before the murder, Gonzalez claimed to his co-conspirators that Byrd Billings earned millions by working with the Mexican mafia and kept it in a safe at the Billings home. The men who went to the Billings home the night of the murder told the jury that Gonzalez shot the couple to gain access to a safe that ultimately contained nothing valuable, and overlooked a second safe that held $164,000, the Huffington Post reports.
Jurors will decide later today whether Gonzalez should face the death penalty or life in prison. Meanwhile, the Billings’ daughter Ashley Markham and her husband are now raising the children, who ranged in age from four to 11 when their parents were murdered, the Huffington Post reports.