It's déjà vu inside courtroom 4-2 at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Joel Lebron, accused of taking part in one of the most notorious crimes in South Florida history, is on trial again after his first trial was declared a mistrial eight days ago.
"A plot was hatched, " prosecutor Laura Adams told the jury in her latest opening statement Friday. "And the plot was to look for targets, easy robbery victims, and what could be an easier mark than a couple of high school kids out for a romantic walk on Miami Beach?"
The state says Lebron and four other men kidnapped Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend, Nelson Portobanco, at gunpoint on South Beach in April 2002. The men allegedly 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 say. The first two pulls of the trigger were dry.
"Ana Maria is begging for her life, please don't kill me, but he didn't let her go, he pulls the trigger a third time, and that time he got what he wanted," Adams said.
Lebron, now 33, is also accused of stabbing Portobanco multiple times in an effort to kill him. He survived by playing dead.
Portobanco will testify in this trial, reiterating for a different jury the same experience he related to a jury last week. That trial ended with a mistrial because a detective inadvertently testified that one of the other defendants had already been convicted.
In Friday’s proceedings, defense attorney Jeffrey Fink told the jury they won't hear Lebron's detailed confession because the detectives messed up the tape recording and ended up with a blank tape.
"The detectives blew it," Fink said, implying that without that tape, anything the investigators tell the jury about the confession cannot be believed.
This process is grueling for Angel's mother, Margarita Osorio. She testified on Friday for the second time in less than two weeks, recounting saying goodbye to her daughter as the high school senior left on her date with Portobanco, never thinking that would be the last time she would see her.
"I gave her my blessings, and she gave me a kiss on the forehead," Osorio said.