A teenager charged in a carjacking that ended in the murder of two people at a Miami Gardens gas station nearly three years ago is finally being tried.
Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Eric Ellington, who is charged in the July 25, 2011 deaths of Julian Soler and Kennia Duran.
Duran, 24, and Soler, 23, had stopped for gas at the Mobil Mart at Northwest 57th Avenue and 167th Street when they were approached by Ellington, Wayne Williams and Dylan McFarlane, police said.
Surveillance video captured the crime and showed a suspect, who police say is Ellington, drag Soler out of his Ford Mustang Cobra and shoot the man at point-blank range 11 times.
Prosecutor Alexandra Lopez described the incident as the video was played in court.
"And as they talk and as he goes away, the man with Julian shoots him and he falls to the ground. And as he continues to raise his hands in surrender, that man shoots him – not once, not twice, but eight times as he lies on that ground helpless,” she said.
Williams shot Duran, and McFarlane was the driver of the getaway car, police said. Ellington and Williams were just 16 at the time of the crime. McFarlane was 18.
Ellington told detectives that he shot Soler because he "didn't look scared enough" during the carjacking, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
Police said the three teens went on a crime spree earlier and stole a Nissan Pathfinder and tried to rob a bank before going to the gas station.
While the state is emphasizing the surveillance video of the double homicide, the defense says that Ellington was not there, and that the video is too grainy for a positive identification. Ellington had been with the other suspects in the stolen vehicle but went home, and when police nabbed him he was intimidated by them and wanted to protect his friends, according to the defense.
“Twisting facts to fit a theory,” public defender Herbert Smith said. “Hallmarks of a false confession, vague details, incorrect facts, and a motive. His motive is protection, his motive is to end this interrogation.”
The prosecutor says that Ellington’s mother identified him and said “that’s my baby” when she saw the video.
Before the trial began Ellington was offered a plea bargain, and his mother urged him to take it. He refused and his trial went forward.