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Trial opens for Florida man charged in 3 separate slayings

Palm Beach County Courthouse entrance
Posted at 2:46 PM, Aug 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 14:46:46-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Trial has begun for a Florida man in one of three separate slayings he is accused of committing during a short period in 2017.

Jury selection began last week in West Palm Beach in the case of 37-year-old Jonathan Gray Schuler. This trial is about the killing of Junior Petit-Bien, 34, who was shot 13 times inside his father's home on Feb 3, 2017.

A judge previously rejected a "stand your ground" defense for Shuler, who had been renting a room at the Petit-Bien home before the slaying. The SunSentinel reported Sunday that Schuler's lawyers still plan to claim self-defense.

Schuler is charged separately with the shooting death of 49-year-old Scott Osterman in his Lake Worth home in January 2017 and the fatal beating of 32-year-old Arcenio Alvarez in March 2017 at a Deerfield Beach construction site where they both worked.

The Osterman slaying, for which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, is set for trial in April. The next hearing in the Alvarez case is Sept. 10.

Schuler's lawyers claimed months ago that he had suffered a mental health breakdown while awaiting trial, but a judge ruled he is competent to stand trial.

Authorities have not labeled Schuler as a suspected serial killer despite the multiple murders.