Mom faces death penalty for murdering 3-year-old daughter after forcing her to drink bleach

POINCIANA, FL – The State’s Attorney’s office announced today that Florida prosecutors are going to seek the death penalty for Joanne Zephir, a mother accused of making her daughters ingest bleach and choking her youngest to death. Zephir, 38, was found unconscious in a car on Mother’s Day 2022 with her three-year-old daughter and her older sister, aged eight.

According to authorities, Zephir had compelled her daughters to drink bleach before attempting to strangle them. The younger child did not survive, but the older was saved following swift admission to a local hospital.

Zephir, already facing an arrest warrant for allegedly stabbing her husband, claimed to officers after her arrest that she had been affected by a ‘voodoo’ spell that led her to harm her children.

Following her arrest, Zephir underwent a psychological evaluation in December and was found competent to stand trial.

In February, a grand jury indicted Zephir for first-degree murder with a weapon, a capital felony. The decision to seek the death penalty hinged on Zephir’s custody of the victims and the young age of the deceased.

Zephir also faces charges of attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and attempted felony murder with a weapon and is set to stand trial on May 7.