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College Cheerleader Turned Daytona Beach Serial Killer Gets 3 Life Sentences
After jurors failed to decided whether serial killer Robert Tyrone Hayes deserved the death penalty or not, a judge gave him three back-to-back life sentences instead.
A one-time Florida cheerleader turned convicted serial killer will serve three life sentences for the three murders.
A judge sentenced Robert Tyrone Hayes, 39, to three consecutive life sentences on Wednesday after a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether or not to put him to death, according to a Wednesday press release from the office of State Attorney R.J. Larizza obtained by Oxygen.com.
The decision came after a three-day sentencing hearing in which prosecutors had sought out the death penalty for Hayes. The jurors also heard testimony from defense witnesses who tried to paint Hayes — now determined to be the long-elusive Daytona Beach Serial Killer — as a supportive friend.
A jury found Hayes guilty last week of first-degree murder for killing Laquetta Gunther, 45, Julie Green, 34, and Iwana Patton, 35, in Volusia County — which is northeast of Orlando — in 2005 and 2006. At the time, he was studying at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, majoring in criminal justice and performing as a cheerleader.
While convicted in those three murders, he may still face a trial in another county for a fourth, more recent, killing to which he has been linked — the murder that triggered his arrest.
Hayes was arrested in 2019 after investigators grabbed a cigarette he flicked into a beer can and compared it to DNA found at the scene of the 2016 murder of Rachel Bey, 32. Bey was found sexually abused and strangled, with a broken jaw and teeth, on the side of the road in Riviera Beach, Florida — about 80 miles north of Miami. He was working as a chef at the time of the murders, according to Miami CBS affiliate WFOR.
From there, he was linked to the three murders in Volusia County through DNA and genetic genealogy. Gunther was found between an auto parts store and a mostly empty utility building around Christmas 2005, CBS News reports. Green’s body was found less than a month later on a dirt road at a construction site. One month later, Patton was also found along a dirt road. All were discovered naked and lying face down. All were shot with the same gun, according to WFOR.
The three victims’ loved ones gave victim impact statements before the Hayes was sentenced. Green’s sister, Rhonda Iwanski, testified that part of her died when her sibling was murdered, Law&Crime reports. Guyette Luster, the daughter of Gunther, told the court that she and her other siblings missed out on many years with their slain mom.
“While the death penalty was not imposed, Hayes will no longer prey on the unsuspecting and vulnerable — he will die in our State Prison System,” Larizza said in his office's press release. “There is justice in that.”