Family of victim in botched murder-for-hire plot seeks justice

Outgoing state attorney announced she’s not seeking death penalty against 2 suspects

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The family of a Kissimmee woman killed during a botched murder-for-hire plot is speaking out after the former state attorney announced she would no longer seek the death penalty for two suspects arrested in the case.

The family of Janice Zengotita-Torres is remembering their loved one three years after she was murdered. The 42-year-old Kissimmee woman was killed in 2018 during a botched murder-for-hire plot.

Investigators said the suspects kidnapped and murdered the wrong woman.

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The victim’s niece, Carmen Hernandez, spoke about her aunt on Friday.

“My aunt was a beautiful person,” Hernandez said.

Earlier this week, outgoing Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced she would not seek the death penalty against two of the suspects. It was already announced the third suspect wouldn’t face a death sentence.

Hernandez said the news came as a surprise.

“The decision was sudden, and we were made aware only minutes before, not allowing us to express ourselves,” she said.

Osceola County’s new sheriff, Marco Lopez, said he and the family spoke to the new state attorney, Monique Worrell, Friday morning. He said he feels confident her office will get justice for the victim’s family.

“I have confidence in our state attorney’s office and I have confidence in Florida law,” Lopez said. “We put together a good case. Now the state attorney is going to review it.”

He said the family never asked prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Hernandez said they want to make sure the suspects get the maximum punishment.

“My aunt deserves a fair trial with the maximum punishment given to those criminals according to Florida law,” Hernandez said.

Worrell said she wouldn’t comment on this case until after she speaks with the family. She said in a statement that she is meeting with them in the near future.

She adds her office is exploring all legal options.

Worrell said she is creating a process to review each potential death penalty case.

“We will treat these cases with the gravity that they deserve so we can make a determination that brings justice, fairness, equity [and] equality to our community,” Worrell said.

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