Death sentence won’t be reinstated for man convicted of killing Orange County 19-year-old, judge says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A judge ruled Friday that the death sentence will not be reinstated for a man convicted of murdering a 19-year-old.

Investigators said Bessman Okafor killed Alex Zaldivar in 2012 to silence witnesses in a home invasion case.

Okafor’s case is one of several that was granted a resentencing because the jury was not unanimous in favor of the death penalty.

READ: Judge to decide whether to reinstate death sentence for Orange County killer

But recently, the Florida Supreme Court ruled death penalty cases don't really have to be unanimous, so prosecutors said the original death sentence should apply.

But Orange County Judge Julie O’Kane said that decision isn’t hers to make.

“I do not have the authority to ignore the Supreme Court’s mandate that was issued directing me to have a resentencing hearing despite the fact the law may have changed,” O’Kane said.

READ: Murder victim’s father tells killer ‘You’re dead’ during sentencing hearing

That means Zaldivar’s family will have to wait longer while the case likely heads back to the state Supreme Court.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.