Trial opens for Florida man charged in 3 separate slayings

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Trial has begun for a Florida man in one of three separate slayings he is accused of committing during a short period in 2017.

Jury selection began last week in West Palm Beach in the case of 37-year-old Jonathan Gray Shuler. This trial is about the killing of Junior Petit-Bien, 34, who was shot 13 times inside his father’s home on Feb 3, 2017.

A judge previously rejected a “stand your ground” defense for Shuler, who had been renting a room at the Petit-Bien home before the slaying. The SunSentinel reported Sunday that Shuler’s lawyers still plan to claim self-defense.

Shuler is charged separately with the shooting death of 49-year-old Scott Osterman in his Lake Worth home in January 2017 and the fatal beating of 32-year-old Arcenio Alvarez in March 2017 at a Deerfield Beach construction site where they both worked.

The Osterman slaying, for which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, is set for trial in April. The next hearing in the Alvarez case is Sept. 10.

Shuler’s lawyers claimed months ago that he had suffered a mental health breakdown while awaiting trial, but a judge ruled he is competent to stand trial.

Authorities have not labeled Shuler as a suspected serial killer despite the multiple murders.

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