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Woman accused of stabbing man to death in Kissimmee hotel sentenced to life

Emerita Mapp entered no-contest plea to first-degree murder

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The woman accused of stabbing a 20-year-old man to death and severely injuring another in a Kissimmee hotel entered a new plea of no contest Friday and was sentenced to life in prison.

Mapp, 33, is accused of stabbing Zackery Ganoe to death April 10 at a Days Inn. Andrew Bickford was also found in the hotel room with stab wounds, but survived, according to officials with Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. 

Bickford's throat was slit and he had lost most of his blood, his mother, Deborah Bickford, said in court Friday. 

"In addition to the physical scars," Deborah Bickford said. "Losing his trust (in people) was the worst thing he has lost."

Ganoe was a young father who moved to Kissimmee in 2015 from West Virginia. About a dozen family members were in court Friday as Mapp was sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors read a statement from Ganoe’s brother and sister.

“His laugh, smile and personality drew you in,” Ganoe’s sister said. “She ripped out our hearts when she took his life.”

The family is still seeking a motive in why Ganoe was murdered and Bickford left for dead, according to the statement.

The hearing on Friday was set to allow Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s office to argue that they should be able to pursue the death penalty against Mapp after the office missed a 45-day deadline. Instead, prosecutors accepted Mapp’s plea and sentencing and did not object.

“The prosecutor felt it was in the best interest of justice to honor the offer, which was relayed prior to the 45 day deadline, of life in prison," Ayala said. "As a result of this plea, Emerita Mapp will ultimately die in prison and the family of the victims will not have to endure the long and difficult process associated with a death penalty trial. We believe our goal of justice has been met.”

When the judge asked Mapp why she was in court Friday, she responded, “To resolve this case.”

The judge adjudicated Mapp guilty and sentenced her to life in the Florida Department of Corrections.

The case would have been the first State Attorney Aramis Ayala said she would seek capital punishment in since making the controversial statements that she would not pursue the death penalty while in office for any case.

After losing a court battle against Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who stripped dozens of cases from her office, Ayala said she would only pursue the death penalty in first-degree murder cases if her panel of assistant state attorneys unanimously agreed.


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