Man found guilty of second-degree murder of his stepmother and her unborn child

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Jurors spent hours Friday deliberating over the fate of Ian Anselmo, and came back with a guilty verdict on two counts of second-degree murder of his stepmother and her unborn child.


Anselmo pled not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorney asked jurors to, at the least, let him go to psychiatric care instead of prison – if it comes to that.

Anselmo’s defense attorney Richard Hornsby addressed his client’s teddy bear, puppy, before speaking to jurors for closing arguments Friday.

Hornsby said Anselmo speaking to his teddy bear regularly is just one of his many child-like characteristics. Hornsby said all that is part of a coping mechanism for growing up in an abusive home, as part of a cult-like family that was led by their father. The children were never allowed to leave the home -- forcing them into such boredom they would study the bugs in their backyards. They were not allowed to have friends or contact with the outside world, either. Hornsby said the siblings’ behavior on the stand showed how brainwashed they were by their father.

“I don’t want to go outside. I have the most wonderful life with my beautiful and loving family,” said Nico Anselmo, Ian’s 21-year-old sister.

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All this translated to ADHD, anxiety and personality disorders. When he didn’t take his meds for a few days, Hornsby said Anselmo went into psychosis – strangling and killing his stepmom at Greenwood Cemetery in 2019.

The state pointed to evidence from law enforcement that it was much deeper than that. Recordings proved not only did Anselmo call 911 on himself, but he was also lucid when speaking to medics after his arrest.

Lake County Assistant State Attorney Nicholas Camuccio said DNA evidence showed that, while Anselmo may have mental illnesses, it doesn’t excuse him from murdering his stepmom.

“He broke her jaw. He punched so hard she had bruising down to scalp – this murder was done with hate.,” said Camuccio.

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Ian’s stepsister, Waite, testified that her father abused Sue Ellen and then he sexually abused her. It’s why she said Sue Ellen separated from him. But siblings still blamed Sue Ellen.

“I realized she’s trying to take my father and put him in jail,” said Rajko Anselmo.

Dejah-Thoris Waite sent Channel 9 this statement Friday in reaction

“This week has been extremely difficult for my family reliving the tragedy that has changed our lives. We have been filled with emotions no one should have to experience. My mother has thousands of people who have nothing but amazing things to say about her and have shared their stories. We thank the community for such an outpouring of support. Please respect our privacy during this time.”

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