Ju­rors re­turn

Jury to de­cide on life or death sen­tence for mom’s boyfriend

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Gal Tziper­man Lotan Staff Writer

to court to de­cide whether Sanel Saint-Si­mon should be sen­tenced to death or life in prison for the slay­ing of his girl­friend’s daugh­ter, 16-year-old Alexan­dria Ch­ery.

Alexan­dria Ch­ery got off the bus at Olympia High School one day in 2014 cry­ing, her former boyfriend Damian Thomas said in an Orange County court­room on Mon­day.

Thomas asked her what was wrong, but she didn’t want to tell him. He kept ask­ing, and a few days later she re­lented: Her mother’s boyfriend Sanel Saint-Si­mon, who had raised her since she was about 5, had touched her in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

The same ju­rors who in Fe­bru­ary con­victed Saint-Si­mon of mur­der­ing 16-year-old Alexan­dria in 2014 re­turned to court Mon­day to de­cide whether Sain­tSi­mon should be sen­tenced to death or life in prison. They are ex­pected to make the de­ci­sion by the end of the week.

Pros­e­cu­tors put Thomas, 19, on the stand to give a pos­si­ble mo­tive for Alexan­dria’s mur­der, and to try and prove it was cold, cal­cu­lated and pre­med­i­tated — rea­sons to rec­om­mend a death sen­tence, As­sis­tant State At­tor­ney Ryan Williams told ju­rors.

But As­sis­tant Pub­lic De­fender Erin Hyde said Sain­tSi­mon will be in prison for the rest of his life and asked that ju­rors spare him from an ex­e­cu­tion.

“You are not just ap­ply­ing to law, you are ap­ply­ing your own sense of mercy,” Hyde said.

The first phase of the trial took place in Fe­bru­ary. Ju­rors al­ready heard how Alexan­dria was re­ported missing and how the teenager’s body was found in the woods near the Osce­ola-Polk county line.

They de­lib­er­ated for 7½ hours be­fore find­ing Sain­tSi­mon guilty of first-de­gree mur­der, ag­gra­vated child abuse and of ly­ing to a lawen­force­ment of­fi­cer in­ves­ti­gat­ing a missing-child case.

But on Mon­day, they heard more about Alexan­dria’s life from her fam­ily and friends, who read emo­tional vic­tim im­pact state­ments ex­plain­ing how her death af­fected them.

Alexan­dria’s best friend, Franch­esca Cadet, said she would rather re­mem­ber her friend as “the woman she was be­com­ing.”

“I like to talk about the Alex with the beau­ti­ful smile, the out­go­ing per­son­al­ity,” she said. “They don’t talk about the girl who loved sweet tea, the girl who re­ally thought ice cream was food, the girl who was so afraid of dogs but wanted one, the girl who made a joke out of any­thing. I think we laughed at

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