Trial begins for man accused of killing daughter and her mother
BARTOW (FOX 13) - Lester Ross Jr. is accused to taking two lives, and now his own is on the line in a Polk County courtroom.
The state said Ross killed his 3-year-old daughter and kept her body in a freezer for months, then poisoned her mother. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The state and defense made their opening statements on Monday.
Ross and his daughter, MaSarah, were living in Polk County in 2009. The state said her mother, Ronkeya Holmes, who was living in Georgia, was in an ugly custody battle with Ross over the little girl.
Assistant State Attorney Paul Wallace said Ross and Holmes were supposed to meet at a Walmart in Haines City.
"The plan was Ronkeya was telling her family and friends when she got her child back, she was going back to Georgia," Wallace told jurors.
But Holmes never made it back to Georgia.
The prosecution said Ross poisoned her, then forced his wife, Sharon, to drive both bodies to a Winter Haven orange grove. Investigators eventually found the bodies in a shallow grave.
The trial is expected to take several weeks, with testimony from potentially dozens of witnesses.