Judge to rule if hitchhiker accused in Cocoa fatal stabbing goes to trial

Maryland man accused of fatally stabbing man in Cocoa motel

VIERA, Fla. – A two-day stand your ground hearing concluded Friday in the case of a Maryland hitchhiker who killed a 65-year-old Ocala man in a Cocoa motel.

At an undetermined date, a judge will rule if 20-year-old Josh Keravuori was justified in stabbing Terry Hilliard about 25 times.

Prosecutors Friday called on the Brevard County medical examiner to explain how Keravuori was not standing his ground when he stabbed Hilliard, who picked him up and got him a room at the Dixie Motel in February 2018.

Keravuori, who at the time was 18, said he stabbed Hilliard to protect himself from being sexually assaulted.

Keravuori's lawyer said during the hearing that the prosecution failed to prove what happened in the room.

"The medical examiner cannot recreate which injury occurred first," defense attorney Ernie Chang said. "Mr. Hilliard, despite all the injuries, is still able to physically move, struggle, fight."

According to Cocoa police investigators, Hilliard connected with Keravuori when he came to Brevard County to watch the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch.

Investigators said the 65-year-old and teenager were drinking before the stabbing.

After the stabbing, police said, Keravuori stole Hilliard's wallet, gun, and car, which he drove to Miami, flew home to Maryland. He was on the run for two weeks until his capture near Atlanta.

Hilliard's family declined to talk to reporters Friday and Keravuori did not testify during the hearing.

"Assuming we're successful and he gets released, I'm sure he'd like to get back, on with his life. Finish up school, go back in the military," Chang said of Keravuori's future plans.

During the next two weeks, the state and defense will submit written closing arguments. Then the judge will decide if Keravuori goes on trial or is set free.

Stick with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates to this story.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.