WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — Former Palm Beach Central High and University of Maine football star Zedric Joseph was sentenced to life plus 15 years in prison for the May 2014 slaying of the lover of his child’s mother.
The sentence came just days after the three-year anniversary of Joseph’s brutal May 14, 2014 attack on Richardy Chery, who died after Joseph stabbed him 27 times over the course of 40 minutes after Joseph caught the 23-year-old having sex with his daughter’s mother.
Joseph’s sentence capped an emotional sentencing hearing where Joseph was already facing a mandatory life sentence based on the first-degree murder conviction. The only question for Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes was how to sentence him on the related charges of burglary and battery on his child’s mother, Vasthi Laurore.
Assistant State Attorneys Aleathea McRoberts and Lauren Godden asked Kastrenakes to give Joseph consecutive life sentences on the other charges as well. Assistant Public Defender Noble Parsons, along with Joseph’s family, friends and even Laurore, asked for leniency.
Parsons pointed out that the verdict appeared to be a struggle for the jurors, who asked at one point during the deliberations whether they could make distinction in their conviction to indicate that the crime was committed in the heat of passion.
Kastrenakes said he agreed with Parsons that the charges didn’t warrant additional life sentences. He sentenced Joseph to a concurrent 35-year sentence on the burglary, but added a consecutive 15-year sentence for the battery charge on Laurore.
“It’s jealously, that leads to rage, that leads to violence. It’s that human emotion,” Kastrenakes said in describing the crime, later adding: “This is truly two lives lost.”
Joseph came to the hearing not planning to say anything, but after an outpouring of support from his family took the time in court to thank them all for being there — especially knowing that he would be sentenced to life regardless of what they said.
The 26-year-old also told Chery’s family, seated in the courtroom, that he had respect both from them and for “the young man involved.”
“You put anybody in certain situations, you don’t know what you’ll do,” Joseph said later.
Chery’s relatives, who had sat through every day of Joseph’s March trial, didn’t respond to Joseph’s statements. They also declined to speak directly to Kastrenakes before he passed his sentence, but through McRoberts and Godden said they agreed with prosecutors’ recommendations for consecutive life sentences.
McRoberts told Kastrenakes that in all the positive statements about Joseph, no one had discussed Chery, who all sides agreed was an innocent man.
“This was an individual that did nothing wrong,” McRoberts said. “This was a man who begged for his life, for 40 minutes.”
According to arrest reports, Joseph broke into Laurore’s locked apartment in the 1600 block of Quail Lake Drive in Westgate, west of West Palm Beach, and found her and Chery having sex. He then repeatedly stabbed and tortured Chery, according to prosecutors, and also stabbed Laurore in the process before he beat her with a hair straightener.
Back in 2012, Joseph had been accused of attacking Laurore while they lived together with her son from a prior relationship and their daughter in Orono. UMaine police arrested Joseph on charges of domestic violence assault, domestic violence criminal threatening and misdemeanor assault on Dec. 17, 2012, after Laurore told officers that Joseph had tried to strangle her twice and threatened to kill her in a jealous rage.
Joseph took a plea bargain on a disorderly conduct charge, for which he spent 48 hours in jail. He also was suspended from the school and the football team on an interim basis after the 2012 incident, according to UMaine officials. He returned to the football field the next season.
Joseph transferred to UMaine in 2011 after two years at Erie Community College in Orchard Park, N.Y., and appeared in a total of five games for the UMaine football team during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, according to university officials in 2014. He broke his leg in the first game he started on Sept. 14, 2013, and missed the rest of the season.
After being named a suspect in the West Palm Beach stabbings, Joseph was suspended again on March 8, 2014, from UMaine, where he was studying child development and family relations.
Joseph’s supporters — including his mother and brother, two best friends and former University of Florida quarterback Dale Dominey, who took Joseph in as a teen and became a father figure to him — all said the event belied his personality.
Laurore brought her daughter to the front of the courtroom with her when she made her request for leniency. She said she hopes the child could one day spend time with her father, Joseph, as a free man.
The little girl covered her eyes with her arm as her mother spoke, but later looked at her father as he stood in jail shackles.
“You’re the most beautiful girl in the world, you’re the smartest girl in the world,” said Joseph, who plans to appeal his conviction. “I promise I’m going to do whatever I can to get out and be with you.”
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