MIAMI (CBS4) – For the first time since the trial of a Coral Gables High student got underway, jurors heard from the student accused in the death of a classmate Tuesday afternoon.
It was not in the form of testimony, but in the form of a videotaped interrogation taken by police shortly after the deadly high school stabbing occurred.
Eighteen year old Andy Rodriguez is charged with second degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Juan Carlos Rivera, who was stabbed to death at the school in September 2009.
In the interrogation tape, Rodriguez is questioned in Spanish about the sequence of events that led to the stabbing.
In the tape, Rodriguez states that Rivera had his arm around his neck and wouldn’t let him go.
“We bumped each other. I saw him charging at me,” Rodriguez states. “We began swinging at each other.”
An interrogator says, “Was it [the bump] deliberate or an accident?”
Rodriguez said, “Maybe, but the way he was looking at me, it was no accident. It was with a bad face.”
In the tape, Rodriguez admits to stabbing Rivera but said it was after Rivera held him in a choke hold and refused to release him.
Rodriguez said he stabbed Rivera and ran away fearful that Rivera would continue to hurt him. Rodriguez said that at the time he did not know Rivera had died.
However, two other students who witnessed the stabbing say they saw it differently.
Rodriguez’ attorney claims it was self-defense in regards to the stabbing. A classmate, however, testified that she saw it differently.
“Juan Carlos was trying to get up from the floor when the first stab occurred,” said Yoselyn Ramos, 18, on the stand last week.
Earlier this week, jurors have been shown gruesome images including the blood soaked shirt which Rivera had worn that fateful day.
Rivera was stabbed five times in the courtyard of Coral Gables High. The state maintains Rodriguez killed Rivera in a jealous rage after his former girlfriend, Daimilsis Salgado, befriended him.
On the stand Friday, Salgado blew holes in that theory when she testified that Rodriguez was not jealous of her friendship with Rivera. She said she had no romantic interest in Rivera, but added that perhaps Rivera had interest in her. She said she and Rodriguez had broken up during the summer because they were no longer getting along.
Salgado also talked about how Rodriguez had gotten the knife, saying the two had gone together to a flea market to purchase the knife. She said Rodriguez used the pocket knife at his job at another flea market, which required him to open boxes.
Other witnesses have testified that it was Rivera who through the first punch in the fight that day. There has also been conflicting testimony as to whether Rodriguez inflicted the first stab wound to Rivera’s back.
Rodriguez faces life in prison if convicted.