Death Penalty Waived for 4 of 5 Charged in Machete Murder of Homestead Teen

Prosecutors have waived the possibility of the death penalty for four of the five suspects charged in the killing of a classmate in a federal job training program in Homestead.

Police say 17-year-old Jose Amaya Guardado was hacked with a machete and made to lie in a grave in his final moments in July 2015. Guardado's family found his mutilated body in the woods after he had been missing for about a week. The crime scene was near The Homestead Job Corp school he attended.

Fellow students Christian Colon, Desiray Strickland, Jonathan Lucas, Joseph Cabrera and Kaheem Arbelo all confessed their involvement in the murder, police said. They allegedly planned killing Guardado for a couple of weeks before they decided to go through with it.

Prosecutors on Tuesday said the death penalty will only be allowed for Arbelo, if he's convicted. Detectives believe he was the one who hacked the victim to death while the other suspects watched.

"Based on these childrens' ages, I think they did exactly the right thing in this matter," said Colon's attorney, G.P. Della Fera.

"There all very young, immature, it's a very unusual case," said Strickland's attorney, Scott Sakin. "The evidence is questionable as to Ms. Strickland and with the changing landscape of the death penalty here in Florida and it's changing all the time now."

Even though four out of the five defendants will avoid death, if convicted, they won't escape spending the rest of their lives in prison for first-degree murder. No trial date has been set yet.

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