Joel Lebron Sentenced to Death in Miami Rape and Murder Case

Man convicted in brutal crime sentenced to death penalty at sentencing Thursday

The man convicted in the brutal rape and murder of a Miami teen and the attempted murder of her boyfriend was sentenced to death at a hearing Thursday morning.

Joel Lebron, 33, was convicted in September of first-degree murder, rape, attempted first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping in the April 2002 killing of Ana Maria Angel.

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A jury had recommended the death penalty but last week Lebron's attorney asked for a sentence of life in prison for the shocking crime.

Miami-Dade Judge William Thomas sided with the jury, ordering Lebron's execution as he fought back tears.

"He had time to calmly and coldly kill the victim," Thomas said.

Prosecutors say Lebron and four other Orlando men kidnapped the 18-year-old Angel and her boyfriend, Nelson Portobanco, at gunpoint while the couple was taking an evening stroll on South Beach.

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The men gang-raped Angel and then Lebron executed her on the side of I-95 in Boca Raton with a gunshot to the head, prosecutors said. Lebron also stabbed Portobanco multiple times in an effort to kill him, but Portobanco survived.

At Thursday's hearing, Portobanco said he became emotional when he saw Thomas crying.

"He's been at this for so long, he's been so involved in the case, and just seeing that emotion come out, it brought a lot of emotion to me as well," Portobanco said. "It has been a long, long, very hard (road), but I am very happy with the results."

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