Mesac Damas sentenced to death for Sept. 2009 slaying of his wife and five children
Oct. 27, 2017http://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/crime/2017/10/27/mesac-damas-sentenced-death-family-slaying/762974001/
Mesac Damas has been sentenced to death.
After more than eight years, the sentence handed down Friday morning by Collier Circuit Judge Christine Greider -- six counts of death, one for each family member he murdered -- finally brings resolution to the most horrifying Southwest Florida murder case in recent memory; a case that shocked the region at its onset, and then repeatedly frustrated the community -- as well as the family members of the victims -- through seemingly endless delays.
"In reaching this decision, the court is mindful that, because death is a unique punishment in its finality, its application is reserved only for those cases where only the most aggravating and least mitigating circumstances exist," Greider said at the end of the 1 ½-hour long proceeding.
The aggravating factors proven beyond a reasonable doubt in this case outweigh the mitigating circumstances reasonably established by the evidence and warrant that the defendant, Mesac Damas, be sentenced to death. There is nothing in the defendant's background or mental state that would suggest that a death sentence is disproportionate."
it was September 2009, when Damas brutally killed his wife, Guerline Dieu Damas, 32, and the couple's five young children -- Michzach, 9, Marven, 6, Maven, 5, Megan, 3, and Morgan 1 -- slicing their throats with a filet knife inside their North Naples townhouse, bending the blade in the attacks. At the time, Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk called the killings "the most horrific and violent event" in county history.
Damas, now 41, fled to Haiti, where he was born and raised, but authorities soon located him.
While being transported from Haiti back to Florida, Damas confessed his guilt to the Daily News. Did you kill them? Yes, I did. Why? Only God knows.
He was driven to kill by the devil, he said. He wanted death. He wanted to be buried with his family. He expected to go to Heaven.
This focus on God and religion and spirits and demons - a tense mix of Evangelical Christianity and traditional Haitian Voodoo -- would continue throughout his time in the Collier County jail and during his court appearances. Early on he was prone to courtroom outbursts, begging to be put to death and imploring a courtroom gallery to come to Jesus. He has maintained that he was "possessed by demons" at the time of the crime.
In jail he fasted, leading to drastic weight fluctuations. He was, he said, trying to starve out the demons. He also shared his Christian faith with other inmates.
It was a lapse in faith before the killings had left him vulnerable to a demonic attack or hex, he would later tell a defense expert, a specialist in Haitian religion.
His court case was marked by fits and stops -- a trip to a state mental hospital, challenges to the state's death penalty law, and a rotating door of public defenders and judges (Greider was the fourth judge to oversee Damas' case).
Toward the end, Damas virtually shut down in court, refusing to participate in hearings or speak with his court-appointed lawyers. He wanted to represent himself in court; a request that was denied.
In early September, Greider allowed Damas to plead guilty to the six counts of first-degree murder. He waived his right to a jury. He also waived his right to have his attorneys present mitigating evidence in his favor.
On Tuesday, when Greider asked Damas if he still wanted to waive his right to mitigating evidence, he refused to speak. Instead, he wrote her a note.
"Go ahead, continue your work, may my blood be upon your shoulders."
He signed the note, "COG" -- Child of God.