• Man convicted of killing Leesburg woman, 84, sentenced to life in prison

    By: Jason Kelly , Michael Lopardi


    TAVARES, Fla. - A man convicted of killing an 84-year-old Leesburg woman will spend the rest of his life in prison. 

    David Mariotti was convicted of first-degree murder earlier this month in the 2016 killing of Bernadine Montgomery.

    A jury began deliberating his sentence about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Eleven jurors voted in favor of the death penalty, but one favored life in prison. 

    Read: Woman describes helping dispose of body in Leesburg woman’s killing

    A death penalty vote needs to be unanimous.


    Prosecutors said the judge sentenced Mariotti to life in prison after the jury returned its recommendation. The defense said it will appeal the guilty conviction. 

    Prosecutors said Mariotti spent months building a friendship with Montgomery so he could take advantage of her kindness and steal her money.

    Read: Opening statements begin in trial of man accused of killing 84-year-old Leesburg woman

    Prosecutors said her body was dumped in the Ocala National Forest and was never found. 

    The penalty phase started last Thursday with prosecutors arguing the defendant should be sentenced to death. 

    During the sentencing phase, the defense called a series of brain and behavior experts and friends to discuss Mariotti’s childhood drug use and family situation. 

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