A Florida man convicted of murdering his family over his relationship with a web cam girl was spared the death penalty Monday and instead will spend life behind bars.
A jury recommended 30-year-old Grant Amato spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for what prosecutors have said was the cold and calculated slayings of his parents, Chad and Margaret Amato, and brother Cody Amato on Jan. 24.
Prosecutors contend Grant Amato killed his family after they demanded he cut off his relationship with a Bulgarian web cam model on an adult website, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Before the brutal slayings, Grant Amato had stolen approximately $200,000 from his father and brother to facilitate his relationship with the webcam model, named Silvie.
Prosecutors believe Grant systematically killed each member of his family on Jan. 24, first killing his mother around 4:45 p.m. She was discovered “face-down dead at her computer desk,” prosecutor Stewart Stone told the jury.
Grant then killed his father when he came home from work, before waiting for more than four hours with the dead bodies of his parents for his brother Cody to come home from work. Grant then shot Cody and staged the scene to look like an apparent murder-suicide, with Cody being the gunman, prosecutors said.
However, police soon arrested Grant and charged him with the crimes.
Grant’s surviving brother, Jason Amato, spoke in court Monday to describe his tremendous loss.
“It’s hard to go through the grieving process when there are multiple losses and uncertainty in the future,” he said, according to local station WESH. “Through all this, though, I’m a proud Amato, and I will rise up smarter and stronger than before.”
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty in the case, however, jurors were unable to reach the unanimous decision required in the state for capital punishment.
Grant’s defense team had argued during the trial that the prosecution’s timeline for the murders did not fit the evidence.
Defense attorney Jeff Dowdy described the jury’s decision to recommend life in prison “bittersweet.”
“We fought hard for the guilt phase, unfortunately that did not go our way. But saving our client’s life, that’s the so-called prize in this. Our heart goes out to Jason Amato,” he said.
The defense now plans to appeal the verdict.
Prosecutors contend that the jury’s decision to opt for life in prison was likely made out of mercy.
“I think it was a matter of pure mercy,” Stone said, according to WOFL. “It’s very difficult to get 12 people to agree to impose the death penalty. It’s a very difficult decision to do.”
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