SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A judge has sentenced a man convicted of killing his parents and brother to life in prison without the possibility of parole rather than death following a jury's decision Monday.
Grant Amato was convicted late last month of killing his parents, Chad and Margaret Amato, and his brother Cody Amato in their Chuluota home in January over a dispute involving a Bulgarian webcam girl.
Amato's defense attorneys said that Amato maintains he didn't kill his parents and brother despite his July guilty verdict.
"Grant is a very introspective person," said Defense Attorney Jeffrey Leukel. "He does still maintain that he did not kill his family. He's maintained that through the end. That's one's of the main reasons our entire thrust through the penalty phase was to argue for a life sentence."
Prosecutors said they respect the jury's decision, although they felt Amato should have received the death penalty.
The webcam girl who officials said Amato spent over $200,000 on was never reached to testify.
Grant Amato’s surviving brother, Jason Amato, offered testimony Monday morning that brought people sitting in the courtroom, including Grant Amato, to tears.
Jason Amato said what he misses most is being able to speak with his mother.
“It's been 208 days. I really miss her voice. But I am a better person because of my mother,” Jason Amato said.
Jason later explained that he still loves his brother despite all that has happened.
The jury was not polled after their decision, so it isn't known how many jurors were in favor of the death penalty.
Channel 9 legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said he's noticed a trend of juries choosing not to go with the death penalty in many high-profile cases.
"If you can go in and slaughter your mother, father and brother who happens to be in the house ... in what circumstance does the jury say 'I recommend the death penalty,'" Sheaffer said.
Grant Amato's attorneys said they already plan on appealing the verdict.
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