Dead Man With Bound Hands And Feet Found Inside Burning Mobile Home
LABELLE, FL. -- A 12-member Hendry county jury has determined Vernon Dwayne Stevens is guilty of the 2007 murder/arson charges that left a 60-year old man dead in a mobile home in rural Hendry County, Florida.
Stevens was charged with 1st degree murder, 1st degree arson and armed robbery. He was accompanied in the crimes by Raymond Alberto Diaz who was convicted in 2008.
The case against Stevens has dragged on for five years. The presiding Circuit Judge was Christine Greider in the three-week long trial, and Asst. State Attorney Dan Feinberg prosecuted the case for the state.
On October 17, 2007, Hendry County Deputies and members of the Montura Fire Department responded to a fire call at 236 Del Sur in Montura Estates in central Hendry county.
While extinguishing the fire, firemen discovered the body of Epitacio Antonio Hernandez-Beltron, age 60, inside the mobile home with his feet and hands bound.
Investigators from the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, State Fire Marshall's Office, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement then responded to the scene and initiated an investigation.
According to then Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie Lee, shortly after discovering the body of Beltron, deputies arrested two men and they were taken to the Hendry County Jail in LaBelle, Florida on Burglary charges.
Investigators gathered sufficient evidence against these men to charge them with Murder and on November 1, 2007 Raymond Alberto Diaz, then age 43, unknown address, and Vernon Dwayne Stevens, then age 24, of 275 North Datil Street, Clewiston, were officially charged with the Murder of Beltron.
Accomplice, Ray Diaz was convicted of the murder, armed robbery and arson on March 12, 2008 and was handed down a 30 year prison sentence for the arson/robbery and a life sentence for the murder.
Stevens had an extensive criminal arrest history in Hendry County including drug and violent crime charges going back to 2001. He tied to argue that he didn't kill the victim.