Twice, Steven Wesolek has sent letters from jail to the family of the young man he's accused of killing.
With Wesolek standing handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit Thursday morning, Danny and Carmen Acevedo clutched hands and stared at the man charged with killing their son, Enrique Daniel Acevedo.
"It's unnerving to the victims," prosecutor Pete Magrino told Judge Daniel Merritt Sr.
His voice rising, Magrino told the court he intended to ensure Wesolek received a "premature death through legal, lawful means."
"Yes!" Mrs. Acevedo, sobbing, declared into a packed but otherwise silent courtroom.
Along with Wesolek, Sherri Dicus, 39, and her daughter, 15-year-old Sabrina Dicus, are accused of murdering Acevedo, 18, and attempting to murder his friend, Skyler Collins, then also 18. Wesolek's next pretrial hearing is this summer.
According to arrest affidavits, Acevedo and Collins drove to Emerson Road south of Brooksville on June 20 to pick up Wesolek, who is Collins' ex-boyfriend, and two of his friends.
After the three got into Collins' red 2001 Ford Mustang convertible, Acevedo was stabbed twice in the back of the neck and Collins was choked until she lost consciousness. Collins regained consciousness when Acevedo slammed on the brakes, and the two stumbled out of the car near the intersection of Ayers and Culbreath roads.
Acevedo died on the side of the road as the car drove away. Collins had ligature marks on her neck and was treated at a hospital for her injuries.
After the Acevedos received the first letter, one of the couple's daughters read it. Not once, Mrs. Acevedo said, did Wesolek confess or apologize.
The second letter arrived early this month while Mr. and Mrs. Acevedo were out of town. After hearing about it, they came straight home, outraged.
"He's supposed to be a prisoner," she told the St. Petersburg Times in a recent interview. "And I feel like a prisoner in my own home."
Hernando County sheriff's deputies took the envelope to check it for fingerprints, she said. Authorities told her they suspected Wesolek might have gotten the letters out of jail through the help of another inmate.
In court, Merritt asked the slight, red-headed 20-year-old if he knew he wasn't allowed to contact the Acevedos.
"Yes, sir," he answered.
"Are you going to do it any more?" the judge asked.
Wesolek stumbled through a disjointed explanation before he stopped. The judge asked to be notified if the prisoner ever again attempted to contact the family.
John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or email@example.com.