Trial in Poinciana murder moved to April
By Ken Jackson
Three of the four defendants accused in the home invasion and murder of a Poinciana man in the wee hours of July 4, 2013 will wait a bit longer for their say in court.
Konrad Schafer, 16, Victoria Rios, 17, and David Damus, 21, previously had been scheduled for a pre-trial this week and a trial the week of Feb. 17 in the death of Eric Roopnarine, 23, in his Mendoza Lane home. Attorneys asked for and were granted a continuance, and the trial now is slated for the week of April 28, with pre-trial hearings set for April 16.
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office officials said that after Rios knocked on Roopnarine’s door, Schafer and Damus rushed inside to rob him while Rios waited outside. The pair shot and stabbed the victim when he told them he didn’t have any more money than the $300 he gave them while pleading for his life.
The three were charged with home invasion, first-degree murder and third-degree grand theft, although the theft charges have been dropped, as was the home invasion charge against Rios.
A fourth defendant, Juan Muriel, 21, who deputies said drove the group to and from the house, already has pleaded no contest to armed burglary of a dwelling, a first-degree felony that could have sent him to prison for life with no chance of parole. In return, prosecutors are choosing not to prosecute Muriel on a related charge of first-degree murder with a firearm, since they do not believe he ever possessed the firearm that killed Roopnarine. Muriel must also provide “truthful evidence” against three co-defendants in their trials later this year.
His sentencing was scheduled for March 28, but that should be postponed with the trial of the other three set for April.
Schafer also is awaiting his day in court on another murder charge. Kissimmee police have charged him with shooting and killing David Guerrero, 17, as he was walking to a bus stop on Central Avenue early in the morning of June 25, 2013.
Damus originally was charged as an accessory in that case, but those charges were dropped. He and Schafer both still are charged with shooting the rifle in question in all of these cases, a Hi-Point carbine-action .45 caliber weapon, into a series of dwellings in Kissimmee, St. Cloud and unincorporated Osceola County.
According to police reports, Schafer’s father, Lothar Schafer, purchased the gun days before the shootings began, saying his son was having ongoing problems with individuals in Poinciana. Since the teenager was able to gain access to the gun, the father was charged with felony counts of permitting a minor to possess a firearm and culpable negligence resulting in death.
Lothar Schafer’s trial also is scheduled for the week of April 28.