Man to serve life for home invasion shooting death
One of five defendants in the 2005 home invasion shooting death of Jose Gomez was sentenced to life in prison Monday afternoon in a Lee County courtroom.
Anibal Morales, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon by a Lee County jury in early February.
Morales fatally shot Gomez through the heart during a robbery at 18060 Nalle Road, North Fort Myers, in November 2005, according to state prosecutors. Two others were shot, and another man was beaten with a tire iron.
Fort Myers police testified they later found the murder weapon in Morales’ car during a traffic stop.
“We believe this case calls for the maximum sentence … “ Assistant State Attorney Andrew Marcus told Lee Circuit Judge Mark Steinbeck during Morales’ sentencing hearing Monday, citing the use of firearms to kill Gomez and injure two others.
Steinbeck sentenced Morales to serve three mandatory life sentences and 15 years in prison consecutively for the charges of which he has been convicted.
Morales was the fourth suspect found guilty in Gomez’s death.
Co-defendant Dave Gaphoor of Cape Coral was found guilty by a jury Thursday of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
He will be sentenced June 21 and faces a mandatory life prison sentence.
Miguel Pedraza is currently serving a life prison sentence in the incident.
He is in the process of appealing for a new trial, Marcus said Monday.
Christopher Neuberger was acquitted of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder and aggravated battery in a February jury trial.
Elizabeth Reed, who was initially scheduled to be sentenced Monday, agreed to be a state’s witness against Gaphoor and also in an unrelated first-degree capital case in exchange for 10 years in prison and 15 years probation.
Reed pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted home invasion robbery. Her sentencing has been moved to July 27 due to Gaphoor’s recent conviction, Pedraza’s appeal and other factors pending Reed’s cooperation with ongoing investigations.
Morales will appeal his conviction, defense attorneys told Steinbeck.