Pedro Bravo, the former classmate of Christian Aguilar indicted in his murder, will plead not guilty to first-degree murder, a public defender announced Saturday.
Public Defender Stacy Scott said her office planned to file a not-guilty plea on Bravo's behalf.
The family requested a public defender because it doesn't have the money to hire a private attorney for a potentially lengthy trial, his previous lawyer said.
“They’re a family of modest means,” Ron Kozlowski was quoted as saying by the Gainesville Sun. “They simply don’t have the funds to hire private counsel in what is potentially going to be a long road. This has been a tough case from the beginning all the way around. We feel horrible for the Aguilar family and the Bravo family. We hope they all can eventually find some peace.”
Christian Aguilar’s remains were found in Levy County last week by hunters at the Gulf Hammock Hunting Club, east of Cedar Key.
The remains were found six miles off paved road with blue Vans shoes, duct tape and blue jeans, according to reports.
"It looked like somebody tried to bury it, unsuccessfully,’’ The Miami Herald reported Fred Oliver, a volunteer with the sheriff’s office, as saying. "They saw the skull, realized it was face down, and they realized it was not an animal.’’
The funeral mass and burial for Christian Aguilar will be held Tuesday in Miami.
A funeral mass open to the public is scheduled for 1 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church at 5909 NW 7 St. The student’s private burial will be held at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery.
Christian Aguilar’s family, who said it will pick up his body from Gainesville, released a statement Friday regarding the search for their son.
“We thank God and everyone that has helped us along during our difficult journey. We still have a long way to go, but have found some peace in finding our son’s body and being able to give him a proper burial,” Carlos Aguilar said.
The father also announced that two of his son’s aunts, who live in Colombia, were granted non-immigrant visas to travel to Miami for the funeral mass and burial.
“I would like to thank Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Bill Nelson for helping make sure Christian’s aunts attend his funeral. We would also like to thank those who started an online petition, signed by almost 2000 people, to bring his aunts to Miami,” he said.
Carlos Aguilar also asked for “privacy to process this tremendous tragedy.”
The 18-year-old was last seen Sept. 20 with Pedro Bravo, his friend and former classmate, at a Gainesville Best Buy, authorities said.
Police arrested and initially charged Bravo, also 18, with depriving a crime victim of medical care, but he was later charged with murder after police say they found blood in Bravo's SUV and found Aguilar's backpack hidden inside a suitcase in Bravo's closet.
Police also said Bravo bought a shovel and roll of duct tape days before the student vanished.
A Gainesville memorial service was held for Christian Aguilar in earlier this week.