Resentencing trial date set for convicted killer Bessman Okafor

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — It’s been nearly a decade since 19-year-old Alex Zaldivar was executed by convicted killer Bessman Okafor at his Ocoee home.

Okafor was sentenced to death, but the state Supreme Court flip-flopped on whether a jury must be unanimous when it comes to recommending the death penalty in capital murder cases.

READ: Life or death? Florida Supreme Court hears arguments on whether to reinstate Bessman Okafor death sentence

Okafor was back in front of a judge on Thursday to determine when his resentencing trial will begin.

The judge ruled that the trial will begin eight months from now in March 2022, but there was also a second hearing in court regarding the home invasion case that began the legal disagreement.

Zaldivar’s father said he plans to keep fighting to see his son’s murderer get what’s coming to him.

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

Rafael Zaldivar has been to every court hearing for Okafor over the last 10 years. Okafor was convicted of killing his son in 2012.

“This guy just exterminated him, because he didn’t want to go to prison. He was selfish and he took his life,” Rafael said.

Alex was supposed to testify against Okafor after he broke into Alex’s home in Ocoee in 2012. Prosecutors said Okafor went to the home wearing an ankle monitor while out on bond, and shot Alex and his two roommates execution-style to keep them from testifying.

READ: Bessman Okafor sentenced to death for Ocoee home invasion slaying

In court on Thursday, Okafor’s attorney argued that his attorney at the time in that home invasion case presented the jury with an alibi defense, but changed course mid-trial, never presenting testimony to the jury that could clear him.

Rafael said the tactic is just a ploy to add more confusion to the captial murder case, which he has to relive again after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a jury must be unanimous when it comes to death penalty cases. The state’s high court later reversed that decision, but determined the death penalty in this case and dozens of others could not be reinstated.

The judge said she would take what she heard in court on Thursday under advisement and will rule later.

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.