Leesburg man convicted of killing his father, burying him in backyard

A Leesburg man accused of killing his father and burying him in a shallow grave in the backyard was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday night.Jesse Jordan, 31, admitted in court this week to killing his father, Jesse Wachter, while high on heroin after...

Leesburg man convicted of killing his father, burying him in backyard

A Leesburg man accused of killing his father and burying him in a shallow grave in the backyard was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday night.

Jesse Jordan, 31, admitted in court this week to killing his father, Jesse Wachter, while high on heroin after the two got into an argument and Jordan struck him with a ball peen hammer in 2013.

Jurors had to decide whether the act was done in the heat of the moment – and without premeditation – as his defense attorney argued.

The difference for Jordan is that if he had been convicted of a lesser charge, he could have had a chance at parole. First-degree murder convictions carry a mandatory life sentence.

According to Jordan’s testimony, Wachter, 63, was kicking him out of his house when the two got into an argument around Thanksgiving 2013. Jordan said that as he was packing his bags, his father kicked him and they began to wrestle and punch each other.

Jordan said his father had a hammer, but he managed to take it from him.

“I couldn’t get out, so, you know, I just ... I hit him back,” Jordan said. “Afterwards, he hit the ground. I just stood there for a second. I stood there. I freaked out.”

Jordan said he shot up heroin, bought mulch and buried his father in the backyard of his mobile home before heading to Orlando for the night.

Prosecutors argued that Jordan had a chance to reflect on his actions before killing his father.

Medical examiners testified that Wachter’s skull was crushed in the back after multiple blows.

For the next month and a half, Jordan told neighbors, family and friends different stories about Wachter’s whereabouts, deputies said. When deputies arrested Jordan in early 2014, they found him driving Wachter’s car and towing a trailer with a washer, dryer, motorcycle and golf cart that belonged to his father.

In court, Jordan said he used his father’s credit cards after he died and bought drugs often.

Defense attorneys argued that Jordan had been abused since he was 10 years old. Family members testified that Wachter once threw an ashtray at Jordan, sending him to the hospital for stitches.

“He would have fits of rage, and sometimes he would get mad at J.R. for things he didn’t do,” Amanda Wachter, Jordan’s cousin, said in court. “And when he got mad, he had difficulty de-escalating. I saw him hit J.R. several times.”

Jordan said he tried to improve his relationship with his father.

“It just never worked out,” he said.

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jruiter@orlandosentinel.com or 352-742-5927.

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