Court Says About: Dating App Murder Trial

POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA (Court TV) – POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA (Court TV) – A second jury will decide whether the man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2016 execution-style murder of a single father will get a death sentence or not.

The punishment phase in the case of FL v. Andre Warner has begun. Due to delays created by COVID-19 issues, the jurors who convicted Warner last year were discharged.

Andre Warner is being blamed for pulling the trigger.

Authorities say Hilarie met 18-year-old Hailey Bustos on the dating app Plenty of Fish and went on a date with her. She returned to Hilarie’s apartment early the following morning with three guys, including Warner, to rob him. According to prosecutors, Warner ended up shooting Hilarie.

“His attackers pushed him to his knees at gunpoint while pleading for his life for the sake of his 5-year-old daughter,” prosecutor Kristie Ducharme said.

The defence tried to suggest that Warner was not the actual murderer, claiming that Bustos was pointing fingers to avoid a lengthy sentence.

Warner was found guilty of charges connected to the death of Adam Hilarie, a 27-year-old man, on March 20, 2020. When Hilarie was tragically murdered during a heist, he had just come home after a date with Hailey Bustos, a lady he’d met via the dating app Plenty of Fish. Bustos went to Hilarie’s residence with Warner, Gary Gray, and Joshua Ellington with the aim of robbing him. During that burglary, Warner was found guilty of shooting Hilarie in the head.

Adam Hilarie (L) and Hailey Bustos (R)

Hilarie is survived by her five-year-old daughter.

>>> Examine THE COMPLETE TRIAL ON DEMAND: FL v. ANDRE WARNER (2020)

Warner was also found guilty of robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery. At Warner’s trial, Bustos testified against him. “I honestly don’t care if I spend the rest of my life in jail, as long as he’s behind bars too,” she said while on the stand.

The medical examiner explained how a bullet entered Hilarie’s skull from behind and exited through his cheek as he took the stand. He didn’t die right away.

“She is hoping that by testifying against Mr. Warner she will avoid a life sentence,” Defense Attorney Robert Norgard said of Bustos.

Hilarie’s mother is not buying that idea.

“She always said she was involved but she always said it was Andre Warner that was the shooter,” Anna Cruz said. “She never stopped saying he was the shooter.”

Tuesday’s testimony included the playing of a dramatic 911 call from the man who found the victim’s body.

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty against Warner. The trial is expected to take another week and a half.

Warner took a stance in defense of himself. Warner was found guilty on all counts after a two-hour and 45-minute jury deliberation.

The first of the four co-defendants to go to trial was Warner. Bustos, Gray, and Ellington have yet to face charges. All three are charged with first-degree murder, although only the first-degree murder accusation carries a mandatory life term if convicted. Warner is the only one who may face the death penalty.

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