Sebring SunTrust Bank shooting suspect's trial delayed
SEBRING, Fla. - It's been three years since five people were gunned down at a bank in Sebring, and their families are still waiting for justice. Friday, a judge decided to delay the trial but wants a date to be scheduled before the year is over.
The lawyers for the suspect, Zephen Xaver, hoped to push the trial back due to the assistant public defender's personal medical issues. However, the state was strongly against it, saying that there has been a co-counsel on board since the beginning of this case – and they should be prepared to head to trial as scheduled on May 2.
However, the judge agreed with the defense, but noted that a trial date must be scheduled before the end of the year.
Xaver is accused of killing five women inside the Sebring SunTrust bank back in January of 2019. Security cameras captured the gruesome scene on tape, showing the then-21-year-old walking into the bank wearing a bulletproof vest. At gunpoint, he told four of the bank's employees to lie on the floor, before shooting them along with one of the bank's customers, prosecutors said.
Shortly after. Xaver called police on himself, telling them that he had fired shots at the bank. When law enforcement officials showed up, a two-hour standoff ensued before he was finally arrested.
Booking image for Zephan Xaver
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That day, bank employees, Ana Pinon-Williams, Debra Cook, Marisol Lopez, and Jessica Montague, and a customer, Cynthia Watson were killed. Since then, their families have been fighting for justice to be served, saying it’s a nightmare they desperately want to end.
Jermaine Montague will never forget January 23, 2019. His wife went to work at the bank like she did most mornings. They were supposed to meet for lunch and celebrate his birthday with their 2-year-old daughter. Instead, he got a call about a shooting at the bank.
"We struggle. It’s an everyday thing. We struggle to sleep. We struggle to keep going," Montague said. "She could light up the room. You walk into the bank and see her smile. It really just warmed you to be there."
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The families of customer Cynthia Watson and employees Marisol Lopez, Debra Cook, and Ana Pinon-Williams, got the same devastating call.
Police said they haven't found any connection between suspect Xaver and the victims. It also did not appear that there had been any attempt to rob the bank.
Xaver has pleaded not guilty.