Dayonte Resiles did everything he could to avoid the trial that’s about to start. He enlisted more than a dozen people to help him — some by concocting an alibi investigators never bought, others by staging the most daring courthouse escape Broward County has ever seen.
It didn’t work. Resiles, 27, is going to trial next week in the case at the center of it all, the 2014 stabbing death of Jill Halliburton Su in her Davie home.
For the defendant, it’s the case with the highest stakes. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted. The other charges Resiles is facing, nearly 70 of them, could put him away for the rest of his life. But this one could end it.
Jury selection on the murder case — only the murder case — started Nov. 1, with potential jurors quizzed on whether they knew anything about the man who attracted extensive local news coverage because of both the crime and the lengths to which he went to avoid being held responsible for it.
Opening statements are expected by midweek.
To hear him tell it, Resiles plotted his escape because he didn’t kill Su. Eight people were accused of helping him break out. Another seven were accused of trying to help him concoct an alibi, a claim that he was in another state at the time of the murder.
In those plots, Resiles is charged with criminal solicitation, bribery of a public servant, witness tampering, conspiracy to commit perjury, racketeering, conspiracy to escape from jail and the brazen escape itself, among other counts.
But all the charges come back to Sept. 8, 2014, when Su’s son found her body in the bathtub of the family home in the WestRidge gated community off Nob Hill Road. She had been stabbed. Her hands and feet were bound. Prosecutors believe Su was home when Resiles tried to burglarize the house. He’d been accused of burglary nine times before, but never murder.
It was the kind of gruesome crime sure to attract public attention, especially when prosecutors announced they would be seeking the death penalty.
But Resiles made sure the case got far more attention on July 15, 2016, on a day when he and several other inmates were marched into court for routine hearings that typically ended almost as soon as they began. Using a key he had somehow managed to obtain, Resiles unlocked his shackles and, before anyone could process what they were witnessing, bolted out of the fourth floor courtroom, raced down a stairwell, left the building, jumped into a waiting car and fled downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The manhunt lasted six days. Resiles was captured in a motel room in Riviera Beach. In a letter to then-Broward Circuit Judge Raag Singhal, Resiles said he escaped because he was wrongly accused of killing Su. “I felt I was at a dead end with nowhere to turn,” he wrote. “When I escaped my whole reason was to gather enough info on my case to prove my innocence.”
Jurors in the murder case will be allowed to hear about the escape and about a phone that was discovered in Resiles’ hotel room, according to recent court rulings. They will learn that the phone shows no indication that he was trying to gather evidence to prove his innocence.
What they won’t learn, according to the court’s order, is that the phone was being used to watch pornographic videos.
The alibi charges came the following year, after Resiles allegedly tried to pay a Broward detention deputy to smuggle a cell phone into the jail and pass notes to friends, recruiting them in his plan to show he was in Georgia on the day Su was killed.
Resiles’ apparent efforts appear to have backfired. Instead of demonstrating his innocence, investigators relied on them to shore up the timeline of events leading to and following Su’s death.
Defense lawyers have declined interview requests as the trial date approaches, and prosecutors declined to comment, pointing to documents in the case file.
All 15 charged with helping Resiles with the alibi case and the escape from the courthouse pleaded guilty or no contest, with a sentencing range between probation and five years in prison.