Trial to begin for manslaughter suspect

Deanna De Jesus charged in death of 9-year-old son after Deerfield Beach standoff


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The trial of a woman who survived a Deerfield Beach standoff, during which, police say, her husband shot and killed a man, stabbed her and two of her sons and then killed himself, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday morning.

Jury selection for the trial of Deanna De Jesus, 37, began on Monday. She was charged with aggravated manslaughter and child neglect in connection with the Feb. 9 incident at the Highland Woods RV Park.

The Broward Sheriff's Office said De Jesus admitted to a witness that she knew her husband, William De Jesus, sexually abused their sons and also sometimes crushed drugs and gave them to the boys. Investigators said the medical examiner found cocaine in the systems of her husband and the couple's 9-year-old son.

BSO said Deanna De Jesus did nothing during the Feb. 9 standoff to stop her husband -- who investigators said had already gunned down Ovila Plante, 76, at his RV -- when he stabbed Jeshia, their 9-year-old son and Samson, their 7-year-old son. Investigators said Deanna De Jesus only protested when her husband stabbed her, before he killed himself. Investigators said William De Jesus brought his family to South Florida from their home in Port Orange to buy drugs that day.

BSO said that for several hours after she realized Samson De Jesus was still alive, Deanna De Jesus failed to call for help, although SWAT team members were surrounding the RV.

Five hours after the incident began, the SWAT team went into the RV and found that William De Jesus and the couple's 9-year-old son were dead, and Deanna De Jesus and the 7-year-old son were critically wounded, BSO said.

During the trial, jurors will hear from Samson De Jesus who survived the attack. He told detectives his mother did nothing to stop William De Jesus from stabbing the boys before his father took his own life.

Samson De Jesus will not physically take the stand. Instead, an audio recording of his interview with detectives will be played.

But defense attorneys will argue that Deanna was physically defenseless against her knife-wielding husband and psychologically incapable of standing up to him after years of physical and mental abuse.

Deanna De Jesus lost custody of her 7-year-old son in February.

The trial is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.