By Ken Jackson
Victoria Rios, the former teenager who police say lured a Poinciana man to the door on the night of his eventual 2013 murder, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday at the Osceola County Courthouse.
Ninth Circuit Judge Jon B. Morgan rendered the sentence, which includes a lifetime of probation. He said that since Rios did not pull the trigger and kill Eric Roopnarine herself on the night of July 3, 2013, he did not hand down a life sentence as requested by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office.
For the first time in her nearly five-year court proceedings in the case, Rios took the
stand and was heard from, noting that Roopnarine “didn’t deserve any of what happened to him.”
“I think about that every day, and I pray that you may have peace,” she said, directed at the victim’s family, present in court.
The sentencing brings a judicial close to the case against Rios, 21, whom the state charged with first-degree murder and armed burglary. A jury found her guilty on both charges on April 26, 2017, after a different jury could not come to a unanimous verdict in June 2016.
The sentencing hearing began April 6, when members of Roopnarine’s family read statements or had Assistant State Attorney Gabrielle Sanders read them noting that “memories are all that are left” of Eric and calling Rios a “heartless ringleader” of the plot. Defense Attorney Michael Nichola, who sought a sentence of 15 years or less, brought psychologists to the stand on April 6, who noted that Rios’ IQ was on the cusp of intellectual disability and suffered from a clinical level of depression.
“Victoria was found to be at risk for being manipulated by people who are higher functioning,” Forensic Psychologist Dr. Eric Mings said.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Kimberly McGrath said Rios exhibited a “textbook case of childhood trauma” that made her vulnerable to manipulation and exhibited depression and anxiety.
“Her peers attempted to sexually assault her for money,” McGrath said.
By phone, Laura Marvel, Rios’ aunt, described her as “genuinely a sweet and loving person,” who had a biological mother who exited her life early and a step-mother who was cold and unfeeling toward her.
“I saw her as naïve to the ways of the world,” Marvel said.
The sentencing extended when a third medical expert was ill and could not attend.
Police say Rios had been messaging Roopnarine, 23, him earlier in the evening of his death with the prospect of committing an act of prostitution while riding from Kissimmee as Juan Muriel drove Konrad Schafer’s father’s SUV to his home. Schafer and David Damus were riding along.
According to prosecutors, Rios knocked on Roopnarine’s door, and when he answered, the two others rushed in and demanded money, armed with a Hi-Point Carbine-action rifle. They eventually shot and then stabbed him.
Lothar Schafer, Konrad’s father, bought Konrad the gun in late June 2013. The son then used it to shoot into homes and cars over the next two weeks, and reportedly shoot and kill David Guerrero, 17, on June 26. Lothar Schafer served six months in jail for making a weapon available to a minor for use in a felony.