The long-awaited trial of a 41-year-old man accused of killing a 57-year-old Jacksonville grandmother and five family members in a 2010 accident on U.S. 1 in Nassau County began Monday in a Yulee courtroom.
Pedro Juan Ocasio Alcazar is on trial for six counts of vehicular homicide in the deaths of Brenda Mitchell Edwards; her 39-year-old daughter Melissa L. Mitchell of Lawrenceville, Ga.; Mitchell’s three children, 11-year-old Miya Mitchell and 4-year-old twins Christian and Keyshawn Perry; and Edward’s 16-year-old granddaughter Dhanja Mitchell of Jacksonville.
Edwards and her family were coming to Jacksonville from Georgia on April 2 to celebrate the release of her son from prison when their vehicle was sideswiped by a speeding car weaving through traffic, authorities said. Their mass funeral eight days later filled the Charlton County High School gymnasium with almost all 2,250 seats occupied with many people standing.
Alcazar has remained in the Nassau jail on $300,000 bail since the accident. He is represented by attorney David Taylor. The case is being prosecuted in front of Circuit Court Judge Robert Foster.
The accident was on a rural stretch of U.S. 1 in Callahan, about a mile north of Kelly’s Countryside RV Park.
The Florida Highway Patrol’s report indicates that Alcazar’s Chevrolet Camaro was traveling at an “excessive speed” south on U.S. 1 about 4:50 p.m. when he passed in front of, then cut off the Nissan sedan with Edwards’ family inside. Alcazar clipped the Nissan, forcing it into the median where it was hit by a Ford F-350 pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer, police and fire officials said. The Nissan rolled onto its roof.
Alcazar said a rear tire blew on his car and he lost control, according to Ashley Merritt, who said she was married to him.
Alcazar’s past criminal record contains 10 cases involving driving with a suspended license among at least 20 separate court cases since 1991, according to Duval and Nassau county court records.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549