Sanel Saint Simon found guilty of murdering Alexandria Chery

By Julie Gargotta and Erin Murray, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 10:01 PM EST

A jury returned a guilty verdict Tuesday in the murder trial of Sanel Saint Simon, who is accused of killing 16-year-old Alexandria Chery.

Saint Simon was found guilty of first-degree murder, child abuse and giving false information to law enforcement.

When the jury read the verdict Tuesday night, Saint Simon began to sway.  

Alexandria’s family made a quick exit, but they kept repeating justice has been served.

When Spectrum News 13 spoke to Alexandria’s mother, Rosalie Joseph, she kept repeating ‘thank you Jesus.’

A penalty phase of hearings to determine Saint Simon's sentence will begin April 16, according to the judge. The same jury will decide whether to recommend death for Saint Simon's sentencing.

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Tuesday, the state and defense presented their closing arguments.

“Once you go back to the jury room, I hand the time clock over to you," Judge John Marshall Kest, of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, told jurors. “All of us are depending upon you to make a wise and legal decision in this matter."

Sanel Saint Simon is charged in Chery's murder, accused of killing the high schooler then dumping her body into a wooded area by Osceola Polk Line Road, only to be found days later.

Chery was the daughter of his then-girlfriend Rosie Joseph.

“Sanel Saint Simon knew what he was about to do. And wanted to make sure nobody else would know," offered Ryan Williams, Assistant State Attorney.

The state described to jurors what they claim was Saint Simon’s lust for Chery and the student’s final moments, fighting for her life.

“He pulls back and delivers another blow," said Williams.

As family members sat in silence, Williams showed jurors photos of a car, Chery’s dental records and Saint Simon’s statement: All evidence the state said that the man left work at Boston Market, killed the girl, then dumped her body.

Williams also refuted any notion Saint Simon could’ve been framed, saying that the man simply went to work and returned home; he had no enemies or friends.

“The first problem in arguing or suggesting he was framed was that there was no one to do that," Williams countered.

But the defense painted a much different picture of the now 46-year-old Saint Simon.

“This gentleman did not have a reason to kill Alexandria," said defense attorney, Peter Schmer. “It’s undisputed that Saint Simon took more than good care of his daughter.”

Schmer contended that the case was built upon speculation.

“The state’s case is flimsy at best," he told jurors.

Saint Simon has maintained his innocence, despite facing charges of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and false statements to law enforcement.

Throughout the trial, the prosecution stacked up evidence against Saint Simon by calling to stand family, friends, the detectives on the case, and a former boss of Saint Simon.

Deputies originally arrested Saint Simon on charges of providing false information to law enforcement and attempted destruction of evidence. He has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.