Sarah Boone loses eighth lawyer and must now represent herself in Florida murder trial, judge rules

Sarah Boone, the Florida woman accused of killing her boyfriend by locking him inside a suitcase in their Winter Park home during an alleged game of hide-and-seek, has lost her right to additional court-appointed defense attorneys and will now have to represent herself at her trial, according to the judge overseeing her case.

It’s been more than four years since Boone was charged with second-degree murder in the February 2020 death of her then-boyfriend, Jorge Torres Jr.

In those four years, Boone reportedly had nine attorneys (seven of them court-appointed) who ultimately asked to leave for various reasons, including irreconcilable differences, ethical differences or conflicts, according to court documents.

RELATED: A Florida woman charged with murder with a suitcase has used seven lawyers, court documents show

“It has become clear to the court that defendant will not allow anyone to represent her,” Judge Michael S. Kaynick said in his latest order, allowing Boone’s last court-appointed attorney to withdraw from the case.

At a follow-up conference in early June, Boone told the judge she was unhappy with her latest court-appointed attorney, accusing her of lying and having “a cavalier attitude,” among other allegations. That attorney told the judge that Boone had walked out of at least two conferences between them.

“I feel like she’s unfaithful to me and totally prejudiced against me, which I think adds to her nasty attitude toward me, and I don’t trust her,” Boone told Circuit Court Judge Michael Kraynick. “Everyone is constantly, constantly, constantly blaming me, saying I’m the reason I’m supposedly hiring my eighth attorney, but I’m not the reason for any of them.”

“I know the court is in a difficult position, but right now we’re at an impasse where if she walks out of every single meeting I have with her, I’m not sure what that would say about the attorney-client relationship,” Boone’s attorney responded. “I’ve spent probably 20 hours, a little more, a little less, with Ms. Boone. She has a lot of lists, a lot of questions.”

Boone then submitted a 58-page handwritten letter detailing a litany of complaints and concerns surrounding his case. Patricia Cashman, Boone’s attorney at the time, filed a motion to withdraw from the case days later, which was later approved.

Why did Sarah Boone lose her right to a court-appointed attorney?

Judge Kraynick said Boone had forfeited her right to a court-appointed attorney and had “by her conduct waived” her right to counsel, according to the order. The judge justified the decision by noting that Boone had previously been warned that she could not be provided with a court-appointed attorney in the future and had been warned about the “dangers of self-representation.”

“Actions speak louder than words,” Judge Kraynick said.

“Although the defendant’s words seemingly reveal a desire to go to trial, however, as set forth herein, her actions and failure to work with court-appointed counsel are repeated over and over again. Allowing the defendant to have her eighth court-appointed attorney (her ninth attorney in total) will only serve to further delay the case and encourage the defendant to persist in her efforts to avoid resolution of the case on its merits,” he said.

As part of the order, Judge Kraynick said Boone’s former attorney would provide transcripts of statements made with two witnesses and deliver them to the Orange County jail, where Boone is incarcerated awaiting trial.

He also made clear that a trial management conference scheduled for Sept. 24 and the two-week trial, scheduled to begin Oct. 7, 2024, would “remain specially set” and would not be changed unless there is “extraordinarily good cause.”

“Good cause shall not include the hiring of counsel by the defendant,” the order reads. It was not immediately clear whether that meant Boone could hire her own private attorney to represent her.


Sarah Boone’s Letters: What Does It Say?

In her 58-page letter to the judge in early June, Sarah Boone presented over 30 questions/concerns to the judge and attorney in her case regarding bail, medical records, case materials, witness lists and investigators, etc.

“I am looking forward to moving on to the next level after five years, I have reached a really worrying limit. Why am I still not being included in my case? How much more of my case and me are being added every hour (especially after this letter was leaked) to the internet, increasing the mass infection and destroying my hopes for a fair trial, anything fair, my side first and foremost, and I am now wondering if my lawyer ‘drank the punch’ like everyone else,” reads an excerpt on page five.

Boone signed the letter with his name, a hand-drawn heart, followed by the words: Confused cat meme. Yes. Thank you.

Excerpt from a 58-page letter written by Sarah Boone and submitted to the judge.

Boone later submitted a five-page document to the judge, stating that he had recently been informed that his attorney had filed a motion to withdraw. Boone then expressed concern about how he would obtain documents related to his case.

You can read Sarah Boone’s letters and court order below:

Sarah Boone charged with second-degree murder. What allegedly happened?

On Feb. 24, 2020, at 1:01 p.m., Sarah Boone called 911 to report that her boyfriend, Jorge Torres Jr., was dead inside their apartment in Winter Park, Florida. She told 911 operators that she and Torres were playing hide-and-seek the night before and that during the game, they both “jokingly thought it would be funny if Jorge got into the suitcase,” according to the arrest report.

Boone said she and Torres were drinking wine. At one point, she went upstairs and “passed out” in her bed, according to the report. She said she woke up hours later to her cellphone ringing, went downstairs and found Torres unconscious and not breathing inside the suitcase, according to the report.

Minutes after that 911 call, the Orange County Fire Department arrived and confirmed that Torres was dead.

Mobile Videos: “Sarah, I can’t breathe, baby”

During the investigation, detectives found two videos on Boone’s iPhone, which were later released. The videos appear to show Torres inside the suitcase, occasionally moving around and seemingly begging Boone to let him out. In the video, Boone appears to repeatedly taunt him.

“Sarah, I can’t breathe, baby,” Torres said, according to the video.

“That’s your fault,” she replies.

—Sarah, I can’t breathe —he said again.

“That’s your fault,” Boone replies, even laughing.

According to investigators, those videos were recorded shortly after 11 p.m., and hours before Boone finally called 911. The second video, according to the report, shows the suitcase in a different position: turned over and now on the left side of the living room.

According to the arrest report, the autopsy revealed Torres had scratches on his back, a large scratch on his neck, bruising on his left shoulder and bruising on his forehead from “blunt force trauma.” He also had a cut on his lip, the report said.

The interrogation: “It was not intentional”

On February 25, 2022, Boone went to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, where he spoke with detectives for nearly two hours. During that questioning, Boone said Torres’ injuries were either due to a fall from his son’s bike or from falling or running into walls.

When detectives asked him to look at the videos found on his cell phone, Boone watched them for a moment and then said he didn’t want to see them. He told detectives he thought Torres was able to get out of the suitcase by claiming the zipper could be unzipped from the inside.

However, detectives questioned this because in the videos they did not see Torres’ fingers sticking out of the suitcase anywhere.

“You can’t see any holes in the video. There’s no holes in the zipper. If there is a hole, he pushes it and begs you to get out. We should probably see that hole,” a detective said during questioning.

“Basically, I could have gotten out,” another detective replied.

“I didn’t zip my zipper right. I didn’t zip my zipper right. This is horrible, okay? Horrible. Horrible. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this,” Boone said, according to the interrogation video.

“It wasn’t intentional. I’ll put my hand on the Bible. It wasn’t intentional. I wouldn’t do that to him or anybody else,” he later said.

“But you did it,” a detective replies.

“It wasn’t intentional,” Boone says, adding that he thought Torres would get out.

When is Sarah Boone’s trial?

According to the most recent court docket, a trial management conference has been scheduled for September 29, 2024. The trial is currently scheduled to begin on October 7, 2024.

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