Jury begins deciding case involving family's murders

The Escobedo family
The Escobedo family

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A federal jury, on Monday, began deliberating the case surrounding the murders of an entire family along the Florida Turnpike.

Jose Luis Escobedo, his wife Yessica, and their two young sons, Luis Damian and Luis Julian, were killed execution-style. Their bodies were found along the Turnpike in St. Lucie County in October 2006.

On trial at the federal courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach-- four people, accused of either killing the Escobedo family or being involved in the cocaine trafficking operation tied to the murders.

Prosecutors say the victim, "Lou" Escobedo, was also involved in the drug trade. The government says the men who pulled the trigger, Daniel Troya and Ricardo Sanchez, were looking to erase a drug debt and steal the drugs the family had with them.

Danny Varela is accused of being the head of the drug ring. Liana Lopez is charged for her role in the outfit. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Troya and Sanchez.

Defense lawyers have pointed out, though, during the trial, no one testified to actually witnessing the murders. The defense lawyers claim another drug cartel could have been responsible for the killings.

Judge Daniel Hurley spent the entire morning and into the early afternoon giving jurors their instruction on the law. There are 16 counts in the case. Some counts charge just one, two, or three of the defendants.

Deliberations resume Tuesday.