JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Charles Soukup, 83, was last seen alive in October of 2010 at the Jacksonville International Airport. The grandfather from Gainesville had just missed a flight to visit his daughter in Texas.
Prosecutors say he was leaving the airport in his silver Jeep, when he ran into, Shanda Merritt, 36. They say Merritt carjacked Soukup, kidnapped him, and with the help of three teenagers, including her own son, robbed Soukup and killed him.
The first to stand trial for the murder is Raymond Austin, 19. On Merritt's orders, prosecutors say Austin choked Soukup as she drove to a remote field. Merritt's son, Marquavious Avery, testified that he watched it happen. He was just 16 years old at the time.
Assistant State Attorney John Guy asked Avery, "Did it appear Mr. Soukup was having trouble breathing when the defendant was choking him?" Avery replied, "Yes, sir." Guy asked, "Why?" Avery responded, "He was gagging."
When they reached that field, the suspects testified that Austin drug the elderly man behind a fence and fired a single gunshot into his head. The suspects then split the money Soukup had in his pocket, $40 a piece, according to Avery.
Soukup's daughter, and other family members, sat in court as prosecutors described this grandfather's final moments, saying only that they're anxious to see justice served.
Co-defendants, Corey Harrington and Avery, each pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony in Austin and Merritt's trials.
Austin is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, carjacking and armed robbery. He faces life in prison, if convicted.
Austin and the alleged ringleader in the Soukup murder, Shanda Merritt, are already serving time for an attempted murder conviction. Just days after the Soukup murder, the two shot Merritt's ex-boyfriend. Police say they drove Soukup's car to that crime.
Testimony in Austin's trial continues Thursday.