Sebring killer’s mother takes stand in murder trial

Reporter: Maddie Herron
Published: Updated:

Hearing voices, hit in the head and a brain tumor. We are learning more about the past life of a killer.

Zephen Xaver’s defense presented opening statements in the courtroom on Monday. One of the key people to take the stand was his mother.

“Sweetheart,” “shy,” and “good kid” are not how you would expect to describe a child who grows up to brutally murder five women.

But that is how Zephen Xaver’s mother and many others remembered him when they took the stand.

Not even a trip down memory lane sparked any kind of reaction from Xaver. The defense kicked off their witness testimony Monday with mentors from Xaver’s younger years.

Teachers, caretakers and even Xaver’s own mother took the stand, sharing glimpses
of the quiet, gentle boy they remember Xaver as a child.

Each person’s testimony is part of a puzzle the defense hopes will piece together a picture of Xaver’s humanity for the jury to decide his fate.

“I remember Zephen as this sweet little boy with a nice round smiling face,” said Judy Newberg, Xaver’s first-grade teacher.

“This boy, who you will hear described as this sweet little boy how he became the Zephen, that walked into the bank and committed this horrible act,” said Jane McNeill, Xaver’s defense lawyer

A ‘sweet little boy’ turned mass murderer. The voices Xaver said drove him to kill, taunting him with homicidal thoughts since 2014.

Were those voices his own or the product of a growing brain tumor?

Xaver’s brain scans may hold the answer.

On Tuesday, the defense will present these scans, review with medical experts and possibly sway the jury to save Xaver from the death penalty.

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