Back in 2002, Barbara Nunn survived a gunshot to the head while two of her Waffle House coworkers were murdered, execution-style, by a man who robbed the Davie restaurant alongside an accomplice.
The killer, Gerhard Hojan, was convicted of first-degree murder, armed kidnapping and robbery and was already sentenced to death by a 9-3 ruling. However, the Florida Supreme Court overturned his death sentence last year after a new law makes it necessary for a jury to unanimously agree on the death penalty.
Sixteen years after the murders, Nunn recounted the harrowing tale to a new jury at Hojan’s resentencing trial Tuesday.
“He had the gun turned this way ... he told us to get on our knees and put our hands at the top of our heads,” Nunn said in court. “I wasn't doing that.”
Hojan and another man, Jimmy Mickel, robbed the Waffle House in the early morning hours on March 11, 2002. Hojan ordered three employees working the overnight shift into a freezer, then returned and shot each, killing 17-year-old waitress Christina Delarosa and 18-year-old cook Willy Absolu.
“Christina Delarosa looks at Hojan and says, ‘I have a 6-month-old son, am I going to be able to see him again?” said State Attorney Mike Satz, who is trying to get the jury to vote unanimously for the death penalty and send Hojan back to death row.
Nunn, who was 37 years old at the time, recalled trying to talk Hojan out of murder.
“I proceeded to tell him, we don’t have to do this, we can talk about this,’” she said. “’Why can’t we talk about this?’”
Nunn was shot point-blank in the head. But she regained consciousness, went to a gas station next door and asked for help. She identified Hojan and Mickel, a former Waffle House cook, to police.
Hojan, accustomed to death row, wrote a letter to Judge Paul Backman, asking him to let him stay there. His attorney tried to point out mitigating circumstances.
"We have a client who had never done anything wrong in his life," said defense attorney Mitch Polay. "One terrible day, one horrific day, shouldn't define a person."
The defense only needs one juror to vote against the death penalty. The jury could begin deliberation as soon as next week.