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State to seek death penalty against man charged in Jupiter triple homicide

Posted at 9:59 AM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 19:43:07-04

State attorneys said during a Monday court hearing they will seek the death penalty against a man arrested in connection with the February shooting deaths of three people in Jupiter.

Christopher Vasata, 24, was arrested in March after the homicides occurred Feb. 5 on Mohawk Street.


Vasata faces three counts of first degree murder with a firearm, one count of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and one count of a felon possession of a firearm or ammunition. 

Kelli J. Doherty, 20, of Tequesta, Brandi El-Salhy, 24, of Gainesville and Sean P. Henry, 25, of Jupiter died in the shootings.

On Monday, a judge set a trial date for Aug. 28.

Vasata has no bond in this case. 

Jimmy Johnson, a neighbor close to where the triple shootings happened, made it clear -- he agrees with the state attorney's decision. "If he's actually the one that killed the three people, he deserves to die."

24-year-old Christopher Vasata seated in a wheelchair heard what could happen to him in open court. Jupiter Police believe on SuperBowl night, Vasata shot and killed three people, Sean Henry, Brandi El-Salhy and Kelli Doherty.

During an exchange of gunfire, he was shot and that's why he's now in the wheelchair. WPTV Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer told NewsChannel 5 by phone what this means for Vasata. "Obviously a grand jury returned an indictment for first degree murder," she said.

Though the judge set the trial for August 28, Suskauer says this case will take time. "Now with that new law, jurors the 12 jurors have to be unanimous in their recommendations for the death penalty."

When the case finally goes to trial, the victims’ families will still be mourning.

"That's something hard to bare. The kids' parents they've got to live this every day and it's not going to go away," Johnson said.

Jupiter Police released the following statement.

“In partnership with the FBI, we continue to investigate the triple homicide, and a cash reward of up to $20,000 is still being offered for additional information related to the case," Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow said in a news release.  "At this time, the State Attorney’s Office is now handling the Christopher Vasata case, and any questions regarding the involvement of Vasata should be directed to the State Attorney’s Office.”

Police urge anyone with information to contact the Jupiter Police Department at (561) 746-6201, Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at (800) 458-TIPS (8477).