Trial begins for accused Daytona Beach serial killer

Robert Hayes, 39, faces murder charges in deaths of 3 women

Trial begins for accused Daytona Beach serial killer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Opening statements began Friday in the murder trial of Robert Hayes, who’s suspected of killing three women in Daytona Beach.

Hayes, 39, stands accused of killing three women, Laquetta Gunther, Julie Green and Iwana Patton, in Daytona Beach in 2005 and 2006. Hayes is also charged in the killing of a woman in 2016 in Palm Beach County.

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During opening statements, prosecutors showed a timeline of all three murder cases that look place in Daytona Beach. Throughout the trial, jurors were told they will be hearing from several experts.

At least four witnesses took the stand Friday morning and the first witness was a gun store owner where Hayes purchased a firearm in 2005.

Hayes was arrested in Palm Beach County in 2016 on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Rachel Elizabeth Bey, who was found strangled and sexually battered on the side of a road, according to authorities.

At the time of that arrest, officials said they were working to connect Hayes to the deaths of Laquetta Gunter, Julie Green and Iwana Patton, who were shot and killed in Daytona Beach a decade prior.

Authorities said DNA evidence from crime scenes that was run through genealogy sites eventually linked Hayes, who was a student at Bethune-Cookman University at the time of the slayings, to the deaths of Gunter, Green and Patton. Police said the women were fatally shot when they got into a car with a stranger and their bodies were dumped in a secluded area.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, if Hayes is convicted.

About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!