Alex Zaldivar's killer to wait 1 year for new sentencing

By David Bodden, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 3:07 PM EST

The family of murder victim Alex Zaldivar will have to wait another year to find out whether his convicted killer will spend the rest of his life in jail or face the death penalty.

Okafor was convicted of killing Zaldivar in 2015 and sentenced to death, but the sentence was not unanimous among the jurors.

Earlier this year, Florida's death sentencing statute was called into question by the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately struck down. The high court said judges were making the final decision in cases, but jurors should be the ones charged with that task.

Because of Supreme Court's ruling, Okafor's sentence was overturned, and he will get a new sentencing hearing.

In an Orange County courtroom Wednesday morning, State Attorney Brad King and Okafor attorney Dean Mosley agreed on taking the penalty phase of the case back to court in November 2018. According to both sides, that will give them the chance to reassemble witnesses and experts.

They expect the case to take two weeks to complete.

Alex's father, Rafael Zaldivar, has been outspoken in his pain over his son's death and Okafor's punishment.


Rafael Zaldivar holds a picture of his 19-year-old son, Alex, in front of the Orange County Courthouse on Wednesday. He has made it clear he thinks Bessman Okafor should be sentenced to death for killing Alex in 2012. (Spectrum News 13)

"I want him in a box 6 by 9, 24 hours a day until he perishes or is euthanized like an animal. But we are ready for it, and we want him gone off the planet," Rafael Zaldivar said.

Alex Zaldivar was 19 years old when he was murdered in September 2012 in an Ocoee home. Prosecutors said he was killed because he was scheduled to be a witness in a separate case involving Okafor, who was also convicted of armed robbery and two counts of attempted murder for shooting Zaldivar's roommates, siblings Remington and Brienna Campos, who survived the attack and testified against Okafor at this trial.