Death Penalty, Florida Mom, Crime, Osceola County Sheriff, Joanne, Zephir

Florida Mom May Face Death Penalty For Murder Of Her 3-Year-Old

The Florida mother said a "voodoo spell" is the reason she allegedly harmed her children, actions that resulted in the killing of her three-year-old.

The State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit has filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty against Joanne Zephir for the killing of her 3-year-old child.

Deputies from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office arrested Zephir on May 8, 2022, after she allegedly stabbed her husband and later forced her three-year-old and eight-year-old children to drink bleach. According to a press release from the State Attorney’s office, Zephir allegedly strangled her youngest child to death, while the husband and eight-year-old survived following treatment at the hospital.

“Zephir became eligible for the death penalty after an Osceola County grand jury indicted the defendant on First Degree Murder with a Weapon in February, which is a capital felony,” the press release stated. “The defendant was also indicted on Attempted First Degree Murder with a Weapon and Attempted Felony Murder with a Weapon.”

Prosecutors stated their rationale for seeking the penalty is based on “statutory aggravators,” which also consider the victim’s age being under 12, the victim’s heightened vulnerability due to the defendant’s familial or custodial authority, and the capital felony occurring alongside an attempted act of aggravated child abuse.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez revealed at a 2022 press conference that upon arriving, deputies discovered Zephir and her three-year-old unconscious inside her vehicle parked near a church at 4912 Old Pleasant Hill Road, with the eight-year-old found on the roadside.

The three-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital, while the older sibling was released to family members. Sheriff Lopez stated that Zephir had agreed to speak with detectives and shared what led to the attempted murder charge. “She made both children drink bleach,” Lopez stated. “The suspect said the reason for doing this to her children was because the victim…must have put a voodoo spell on her, making her harm her children.”

Before she decided to turn herself in, the suspect allegedly told a family member about the events.

RELATED CONTENT: Black Grandmother Cries Out For Justice After White Therapist Allegedly Slapped Her 3-Year Old Granddaughter In The Face