BROOKSVILLE — The teenage girl was the first to appear before the judge Wednesday morning. She wore a yellow jail-issued jumpsuit and handcuffs, and her long brown hair nearly covered her face.
Sabrina Dicus bowed her head and placed her hands over her face. In a voice barely above a whisper, the teen asked the judge if there was a chance that she might get out of jail. "Sir, do I have a bond?"
The answer was no.
There's a chance the 14-year-old girl might never see the outside of a correctional facility again.
Dicus was one of three co-defendants arraigned in Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing's courtroom Wednesday in connection with the June 20 murder of Enrique Daniel Acevedo, 18, and the attempted murder of his girlfriend, Skyler Collins, 18.
Dicus, her mother, Sherrie Dicus, 38, and Sabrina's boyfriend, Steven Wesolek, 19, all entered not-guilty pleas on charges of first-degree murder, attempted felony murder, armed carjacking and armed robbery during their brief arraignments. All are being held without bail.
According to arrest affidavits, Acevedo and Collins drove to Emerson Road south of Brooksville to pick up Wesolek, who is Collins' ex-boyfriend, and two of his friends.
After they got into Collins' red 2001 Ford Mustang convertible, Acevedo was stabbed twice in the back of the neck and Collins was strangled until she lost consciousness. Collins soon regained consciousness when Acevedo slammed on the brakes, and the couple stumbled out of the car near the intersection of Ayers and Culbreath roads.
Acevedo died at the side of the road as the car drove away. Collins had ligature marks on her neck but was discharged from the hospital.
Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino has said he is prepared to seek the death penalty for Wesolek and Sherrie Dicus. Sabrina Dicus, who was charged as an adult and is being held at the county jail, could face life in prison.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision barring life terms for juveniles who commit crimes would not apply to Sabrina Dicus. Juvenile offenders can still be sentenced to life for crimes in which someone was killed.
"They will not be seeking death penalty in your case," Rushing explained to the girl. "That's not necessarily the same for your co-defendants."
In her brief appearance before Rushing, Dicus — listed as homeless in court documents — indicated that she had few means to pay for a private attorney. "I have a coin collection," she said.
Rushing told her that an attorney would be appointed to her case and set her pretrial hearing for the morning of Sept. 22. Dicus was then whisked out of court, so as not to cross paths with her mother or Wesolek.
Also in court for arraignment Wednesday morning was Stanley Elias Eckard, who has been accused of killing his 19-year-old brother, Sean, and burying him in the back yard of the family's Spring Hill home on June 21.
Eckard plead not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder and is held on no bail.
Detectives initially recommended a charge of second-degree murder, but prosecutors have said further investigation of the case supported a more serious charge. A charge of first-degree murder generally indicates the crime was premeditated.
But Magrino has also indicated that he would not push for the death penalty for Eckard.
Joel Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6120.