A jury found a man guilty on Friday of the brutal rape and murder of a Miami teen and the attempted murder of her boyfriend. The victim's mother, Margarita Osorio, said the man on trial was the one who did the most damage.
A jury found a man guilty on Friday of the brutal rape and murder of a Miami teen and the attempted murder of her boyfriend.
Joel G. Lebron, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping in the shocking April 2002 crime. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Jurors reached a verdict after one hour and 10 minutes of deliberating.
Police said Lebron and four other Orlando men kidnapped 18-year-old Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend, Nelson Portobanco, at gunpoint while the couple was taking an evening stroll on South Beach.
The men gang-raped 18-year-old Angel and then Lebron executed her on the side of I-95 in Boca Raton with a gunshot to the head, prosecutors said.
"For me he was the worst – he was the head of the group," Angel's mother, Margarita Osorio, said in Spanish of Lebron. "He was the one who fired, he did the most damage to Ana."
Osorio and Portobanco's mother held their composure as they spoke with reporters after the verdict was delivered.
“One is left with a lot of pain because my daughter is the victim," Osorio said. "He’s convicted of first-degree murder, but the victim is my daughter. At least he won’t hurt anyone else."
Lebron also stabbed Portobanco multiple times in an effort to kill him, but Portobanco survived. He was not in court to heard the verdict Friday.
“It’s been hard reliving this tragedy for the past few days,” Portobanco said, according to The Miami Herald. It reported that Lebron will be sentenced next week.
Prosecutor Reid Rubin was the first to deliver closing arguments Friday, and recounted the chilling moments when Angel begged for her life.
"She's going 'por favor, please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me,' and who's she speaking to? She's speaking to him," Rubin said, pointing at Lebron.
He also detailed the brutal rape of the teen.
"It starts out with one of them demanding she take her panties off. Is it enough? No, it's never enough. They're humiliating them, they're tormenting them," Rubin said. "Joel Lebron begins to vaginally rape her. Is it enough, is he satisfied? No, he has to anally rape her and he has to tell her he was gonna do it."
At one point, Rubin used the gun and pulled the trigger so the jury could hear the same clicks Angel heard, as the gun didn't fire the first two times according to Lebron's own account in his confession to police.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Fink argued that the failure of the detectives to record the confession made by Lebron is a fatal flaw, making it unreliable evidence.
"In this courtroom you don't get a conviction unless you have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it doesn't matter how horrible the crime is, it doesn't matter how important the situation is," Fink said.
It was the second trial for Lebron, after the first one ended in a mistrial earlier this month because a detective inadvertently testified that one of the other defendants had already been convicted.
Three of Lebron's alleged partners in crime have already been convicted.
On Thursday, Miami-Dade Police DNA expert Jeffrey Johnson testified that Lebron's DNA matched semen found in vaginal swabs taken from Angel's body.