Man found not guilty of murder in Cocoa motel room stabbing

Jury finds Josh Keravuori not guilty of killing Ocala man, 65

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A jury on Thursday found a man not guilty of murder in the stabbing death of a 65-year-old Ocala man at a Cocoa motel in February 2018.

Josh Keravuori was found guilty of three other counts, including theft and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Keravuori was accused of stabbing Terry Hilliard nearly 20 times, claiming he was defending himself from a sexual assault at the motel. Investigators said Hilliard picked up Keravuori, who was hitchhiking.

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

The jury received the case Wednesday after closing arguments were presented, and the verdict was read around 2:15 p.m. Thursday.

Defense attorney Ernie Chang called the verdict, “nerve-racking.”

“It’s a tragedy for him and the Hilliard family,” Chang said. “Obviously, the jury believes his claim of self-defense.”

Detectives said after the killing that Keravuori stole Hilliard’s watch, wedding ring, wallet, cellphone, pistol and car. Keravuori was on the run for days before turning himself in to police in Alpharetta, Georgia, according to authorities.

During closing arguments, the defense said Keravuori, who was 18 years old on Feb. 6, 2018, was afraid Hilliard was going to rape him in the room.

Surveillance presented Wednesday showed the men in the motel lobby and later walking to their room after watching the maiden SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch and drinking. Hilliard was staggering, the video shows.

Defense attorney Dennis deVlaming said Hilliard groped Keravuori inside the motel room.

‘’Mr. Keravuori was on his back with a man 50 pounds more than he, 4 inches taller, on him,’’ deVlaming said. ‘’He got him off at first, but he crawled right back and remounted him.”

The defense argued to jurors that Keravuori stabbed Hilliard as many times as he needed to protect himself.

Prosecutors said Keravuori robbed Hilliard, took a shower after the stabbing and left the room with Hilliard’s valuables, including his car keys.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.