Suspects in botched murder-for-hire plot will face death penalty
3 suspects charged with first-degree murder
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange-Osceola state attorney's office will seek the death penalty against the three people accused of being involved in an alleged murder-for-hire plot, according to court records obtained by News 6.
All of the notices have five aggravating factors including the capital felony being "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel."
Prosecutor Christopher Smith filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty Wednesday against Glorianmarie Quinones Montes, Alexis Ramos-Rivera and Ishnar Lopez-Ramos.
Investigators say Lopez-Ramos viewed another woman as a romantic rival, so she hired Ramos-Rivera, and his girlfriend Montes to kill the woman.
However, they mistook Janice Zengotita-Torres, 42, of Kissimmee, for the intended victim and killed her instead, according to Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson.
Gibson said the suspects followed Zengotita-Torres after she left work at Ross the night of Jan. 7 and accosted her when she got home. They forced her into the trunk of her own vehicle, officials said.
From there, they went to an apartment near the Mall at Millennia. Deputies said Montes went inside the apartment while Lopez-Ramos and Ramos-Rivera stayed in the vehicle with Zengotita-Torres.
Gibson said that's when Lopez-Ramos and Ramos-Rivera realized they had abducted the wrong person, but decided to continue with their plan.
The suspects tied Zengotita-Torres with zip ties, covered her head with a garbage bag then Ramos-Rivera beat her until she was unconscious, according to authorities.
"The suspects showed no regard for this victim, causing her to die from suffocation because the garbage bags were wrapped around her head," Gibson said.
The suspects drove Zengotita-Torres' vehicle, with her body in it, to Ormond Beach and left her body near the intersection on Bennett Lane where she was found shortly before 9 a.m. Jan. 8 by a Spectrum employee who was doing work in the area, according to officials.
Zengotita-Torres' vehicle was later found in Orange County, Gibson said.
"The heinous murder of one of our own citizens will not be tolerated in Osceola County," Gibson said.
Lopez-Ramos was arrested while using Zengotita-Torres' card to withdraw cash from an ATM in the area, according to authorities. Gibson said she was wearing Zengotita-Torres' clothing when she was arrested.
She confessed and implicated Montes and Ramos-Rivera, who were arrested at a hotel in Orange County.
"All three confirmed that this was a murder-for-hire and that the victim was mistakenly -- again, mistakenly -- targeted and murdered as being the person they thought was the intended victim," Gibson said.
He described Zengotita-Torres as a truly innocent victim who had no involvement with the three suspects. He said she moved to Osceola County from Puerto Rico a year ago and lived with her husband, her 14-year-old son and her mother.
Gibson became emotional when discussing the case with reporters Friday evening. He described it as one of the most bizarre and heinous crimes he's investigated during his time in law enforcement.
"It was just a mistaken identity, I don't say that lightly, that this woman lost her life for no reason. This mother, this wife, this daughter -- for no reason, at all," Gibson said.
Montes, Ramos and Rivera are charged with first-degree murder.
The woman who was the intended target of the murder-for-hire plot has been notified about the scheme against her but has denied protective services, deputies said.
All of the defendants had arraignments Thursday.
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