BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County grand jury returned a total of four murder indictments on Thursday in two gruesome crimes committed in recent weeks.
Sherrie Dicus, 38, her 14-year-old daughter, Sabrina Dicus, and Steven Wesolek, 19, all were indicted on charges of first-degree murder, attempted felony murder, armed carjacking and armed robbery, according to Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino.
Prosecutors maintain that the three were responsible for the murder of Enrique Daniel Acevedo, 18, and the attempted murder of his girlfriend, Skyler Collins, 18. Acevedo and Collins were attacked June 20 on Culbreath Road in rural south Hernando.
They "had a plan to take Ms. Collins' vehicle through whatever means were necessary," said Magrino, the county's chief homicide prosecutor. "And certainly the taking of someone's life did not slow them down at all."
Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent said after the trio were arrested that Acevedo and Collins had driven 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, Sherrie Dicus stabbed Acevedo, who was driving, twice in the back of the neck and Wesolek strangled Collins until she lost consciousness, Nugent said.
He said Collins 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, the sheriff said.
Collins has ligature marks on her neck, but she was discharged from the hospital.
Subsequent investigation of the case showed that all three suspects had some role in the plan, Magrino said.
Magrino said he was prepared to seek the death penalty for Wesolek and Sherrie Dicus. But the 14-year-old girl, 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, Magrino said. Juvenile offenders can still be sentenced to life for crimes in which someone was killed.
A day after the Acevedo murder, Hernando authorities were called to the scene of another murder, this time in Spring Hill.
Nugent said that Stanley Elias Eckard killed his 19-year-old brother, Sean, and buried him in the back yard of the family's home at 8456 Peoria St. The brothers' father dug up the body, Nugent said.
Stanley Eckard was indicted on Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder.
Detectives initially recommended a charge of second-degree murder but Magrino said further investigation of the case supported a more serious charge. A charge of first-degree murder generally indicates the crime was premeditated.
"The grand jury heard the testimony and returned an indictment for murder in the first degree," Magrino said. "The charge is decided by them."
Magrino indicated that he would not push for the death penalty for Eckard.
Joel Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or at (352) 754-6120.