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At least once a day, Robert Mackey and Paul Trucchio would pray to "the alligator god" that a human head, the only evidence of the brutal murder they committed, would be devoured by a reptile in the Everglades, two witnesses told jurors Thursday.
The witnesses, former roommates of the suspects during their 2007 stay in Volusia County, said Mackey and Trucchio each confessed to murdering Lorraine Hatzakorzian, 41, dismembering her, and tossing her head into an Everglades canal, where it was discovered near a boat ramp in western Broward County on April 28, 2007. The head was the only part of the victim's body that was ever found, and even though no one knows where the victim met her demise, the location of her head resulted in a murder trial in Broward.
Mackey, 44, faces life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder or 30 years if convicted of being an accessory after-the-fact. He cannot be convicted of both crimes. Trucchio was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading no contest to the murder charge a year ago.
Prosecutors say Mackey and Trucchio beat Hatzakorzian to death when she tried to get away from them, then used their tree-trimming tools to cut her head off. Witnesses Doug Stine and Louis Caroleo, who roomed with Mackey and Trucchio in Port Orange from May to July 2007, each said they heard the men confess to the crime and discuss how they could get away with it.
One thing both suspects did, the witnesses said, was offer prayers to a small concrete alligator.
"They used to pray to it. They used to pray to an alligator and rub its head, like a nutjob," Caroleo said. "They said it was the alligator god. They hoped the alligator would eat the evidence. They used to joke about it all the time. It was pretty bizarre."
Caroleo said he was in a blue Dodge pickup with Mackey and Trucchio, who was driving, when police pulled them over on May 1, 2007. Trucchio signed the traffic ticket and called it his death warrant. "You're never going to see me again," Trucchio allegedly said. "I'm going away forever. It was nice knowing you."
The pickup, with New York license plates, belonged to the victim, but police were unable to make the connection at the time.
According to both Stine and Caroleo, Mackey and Trucchio cleaned out the inside of the pickup using bleach and other cleaning supplies. The vehicle was later given away and destroyed.
Stine went to police in July 2007, after Mackey allegedly beat Trucchio with a hammer for talking too much about the missing woman.
The defense phase of Mackey's trial begins Friday afternoon.
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