Judge to stay on Three Amigos murder case, juror could face contempt

Victor Diaz

Victor Diaz

A judge has denied a request for her to step down from the case of one of several men charged in the death of a motorist after a robbery at the Three Amigos grocery, and now one of the jurors in his January trial could be facing contempt of court charges.

Circuit Judge Krista Marx on Tuesday turned down Victor Salastier Diaz’s motion for her to recuse herself from the case based on claims that one of the jurors who convicted Diaz in January personally knows both the judge and her husband but failed to disclose that fact in jury selections.

The same juror admitted in March that he looked up two words related to the case either before or during deliberations – an act judges caution jurors not to do and a move that has been the basis for appellate courts to overturn other convictions in the past.

Marx had previously denied a request for a new trial based on those grounds from Diaz’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joseph Walsh.

But Walsh renewed that request last week, along with what has become his second attempt to get Marx off the case, after he received a series of Facebook messages between Eliot and fellow juror Samantha Scalpi, who had previously complained that other jurors had bullied her into her verdict.

In the messages, Eliot said Marx and her husband, Circuit Judge Joseph Marx, were customers at his bike shop on Palm Beach. When Scalpi asked how well they knew each other, he said he called Marx’s husband immediately after the verdict.

Prospective jurors are typically asked to disclose whether they know anyone in the courtroom during jury selection, but in this case Eliot didn’t disclose allegedly having known Marx.

Walsh has also asked for a new trial based on the recent claims, but as of Wednesday, Marx has yet to rule on that request.

Diaz is now one of several men serving life sentences in the 2007 death of Samuel Salomon, a 70-year-old motorist shot and killed when one of the Three Amigos robbers tried to shoot at the Boynton Beach store owner after he got into his own car and chased the robbers as they left the scene.

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