A Florida man has been convicted of killing his wife and five children.
Nearly eight years after being accused of killing his family in their North Naples apartment and then fleeing to Haiti, Mesac Damas pleaded guilty on Tuesday to six counts of premeditated first-degree murder, reported the Naples Daily News.
The 41-year-old faces a possible death sentence, which he has previously claimed to want, at a hearing on September 29.
‘I love my people, my wife and children. But this thing happened. I don’t have an answer for it. I wish I had an answer for it, but I don’t,’ Damas said in court.
‘When I stand before the great God, I will ask him a lot of questions. From now on, I’m just going to put my trust in him, and say sorry to the whole world.’
Damas has been in custody since 2009 after he confessed to murdering wife Guerline, 32, and children Michzach, nine; Marven, six; Maven, five; Megan, three; and 11-month-old Morgan.
The six victims were found in the family’s home with stab wounds and their throats slashed on September 18 by Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk after the family asked police to conduct a welfare check.
Rambosk once called the murder ‘the most horrific and violent event’ in county history.
Damas fled to his home country of Haiti but was arrested and returned to the US. He said he went to Haiti to say goodbye to his family and claimed he was going to turn himself in.
Damas admitted to killing his family to a Naples News reporter, telling him ‘Only God knows’ when asked why he did it.
He then blamed the six murders on his mother-in-law, saying she ‘pretty much made me do it – the devil, her spirit, whatever she worships’.
He told the reporter he wanted the jury to immediately send him to death before adding that his children and wife were innocent, that ‘everybody’s innocent’.
‘Then why, why would you kill them?’ the reporter asked.
‘The devil,’ he responded. ‘The devil exists…When I did it my eyes was closed, right now my eyes are open.’
Damas’s trial had been delayed by mental competency issues. His attorneys had argued that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury and had a long history of mental illness that began during his childhood in Haiti.
There have also been challenges to Florida’s death penalty law.
Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt temporarily put Damas’s trial on hold in until the Supreme Court ruled whether the state’s death penalty laws and procedures were constitutional.
The Court ruled in January that it was unconstitutional to allow judges to reach a different decision regarding death penalties than juries.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty and Damas himself has been asked to be put to death.
In addition to pleading guilty, Damas also waived his right to a jury trial and his right to have his lawyers present ‘mitigating evidence’ – evidence and witnesses that could sway a judge to not impose the death penalty.