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Florida Man Gets Life For Murdering Roommate Over Stolen PlayStation
Jake Bilotta was found guilty of plotting with his roommate, Ian McClurg, to murder a former roommate, Joshua Barnes, they'd evicted.
A Florida man has been convicted in and sentenced to life for the 2018 murder of his former roommate, who he believed had stolen his PlayStation gaming console.
Jake Bilotta, 26, was convicted on Friday of the murder of his former roommate Joshua Barnes, 24, according to a tweet from the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Phil Archer. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to Orlando NBC affiliate WESH.
Prosecutors said that Bilotta was mad at Barnes because, after Barnes had been evicted for non-payment of rent and leaving the door of their Maitland apartment unlocked, Barnes allegedly broke back into the home and stole Bilotta's PlayStation, watch, scale and bong, among other items while Bilotta was away for Thanksgiving, according to Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV.
Bilotta's other roommate, Ian McClurg, now 25, told deputies that he'd received a screenshot in which Barnes allegedly confessed to the theft and that Bilotta got angry, according to Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG.
"He was beyond pissed," McCLurg said of Bilotta, according to documents reviewed by the station. "Like, I’ve seen him pissed before but he was pissed to the point where he, like, punched a hole through his door and whatever else he did."
Clurg added that Bilotta was angry both because Barnes seemed to be telling people and because he was worried other people might break in as well.
"Jake had pretty much been plotting to, I don’t know, get his sh*t back at least," McClurg added. T"hat’s all that I know. He wanted to have him over, didn’t want to have me leave."
McClurg allegedly told police that Bilotta devised a plan to lure Barnes back to the house in order to ambush him on Nov. 27, 2018.
"[Bilotta] told [Barnes] that they were going to go out, that there was an event, there’d be girls there," McClurg allegedly told police, WKMG reported. "That eventually got [Barnes] to agree to come alone because [Bilotta] didn’t want to have a bad ratio, girl-to-guy."
When Barnes arrived at the home, police and prosecutors say that Bilotta opened the door and stabbed him 17 times with a chef's knife as McClurg remained on the sofa. The two allegedly planned to wrap Barnes' body in garbage bags and dispose of it, but were interrupted by a third roommate returning home from a date.
That roommate called 911, according to WKMG, which published the 911 call.
"There’s been a homicide committed," he told the dispatcher over the course of a seven-minute call. "My roommates... I know why there was a problem with the kid that's dead in the house right now, but I don't know exactly what happened, I just walked in the house. They killed him."
When asked how he knew that Barnes was dead, he said, "He's not moving. They have plastic bags. The man is on a plastic bag. He's dead. He's dead."
He repeatedly told the dispatcher that he was scared the roommates would come after him, his girlfriend and the fourth roommate who was also out for the night.
"It's my roommates! These are people I live with!" he said, added that he knew there were two guns in the house and that he'd taken over the lease from the dead man after moving there from New York.
"He's a kid," he said of Barnes.
When police did arrive, they allegedly found McClurg in the bathroom and Bilotta absent from the house. Officers spotted him running across Highway 17-92 and caught up with him in a shopping plaza parking lot, according to police and bodycam footage obtained by WKMG. On the tape, Bilotta tells officer that Barnes was the aggressor and that he has injuries to his hand and wrist.
"He tried to stab me and I grabbed the knife," he said.
Bilotta and McClurg were arrested.
In January 2020, McClurg pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to a capital felony and and tampering with physical evidence, according to a press release from the state attorney's office. In exchange for testifying against Bilotta, he received 10 years for the accessary charge and five years for the tampering with evidence, to be served concurrently. His current release date is 2028, according to prison records reviewed by Oxygen.com.
Bilotta testified in his own defense last week, claiming that he was chopping marijuana with the chef's knife when Barnes rang the bell, and he hadn't planned any attack, according to WFTV.. Barnes, he claimed, screamed and went for the knife, so he stabbed his former roommate in self-defense.
“He actually managed to get hold of my hand, and I was trying to pull away but I was … starting to get nervous with what was going on in in the scenario because things escalated,” Bilotta said, according to the station. “It was basically 0-100.”
He started crying on the stand while prosecutors asked him why he never called 911.
The jury convicted Bilotta after less than a day of deliberations, according to WESH.
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