Defense Rests In Coral Gables High Stabbing Trial

MIAMI ( –The defense has rested in the trial of a teenager charged with murdering a fellow student at Coral Gables High School in 2009.

Defense attorneys for Andy Rodriguez rested their case after Judge Dava Tunis ruled the jury would not hear testimony of other students regarding the victim’s previous bully-type behavior.

Judge Tunis said the proposed testimony was irrelevant because there’s no evidence Rodriguez knew of it and it “does not go to his state of mind” at the time of the alleged crime.

Rodriguez’s defense team had tried to put witnesses on the stand who would have said the alleged victim, Juan Carlos Rivera, was looking for fights in the first days of school where he was a new student.

Judge Dava Tunis heard student Ronald Rosa describe multiple encounters with Rivera who Rosa said spat at his feet and made obscene gestures. Rosa told the judge he thought Rivera would have attacked him and two other students.

The defense also sought to recall Rivera’s girlfriend who would testify she stopped giving Rivera rides to school because of his propensity for confrontations. Judge Tunis rejected that motion as well.

Since the defense rested their case Friday afternoon, closing arguments are expected to begin Monday morning.

A forensic pathology expert had previously boosted the self-defense case being made in the trial of a teenager charged with murdering a fellow student at Coral Gables High in 2009.

Dr. John Marraccini, former Chief Medical Examiner for Palm Beach County, testified that forensic evidence and school security video from the September, 2009 incident supported Andy Rodriguez’s claim that he was acting in self-defense when he fatally stabbed Juan Carlos Rivera in a school hallway.

Marracini said that blood spatter found on the floor and low on the wall of the hallway is consistent with Rodriguez’s statement to police that Rivera had him pinned from behind, on the floor, and was applying a choke hold when he drew a knife from his pocket and lashed out.

Marraccini demonstrated, using defense attorney Lane Abraham as a model, how Rodriguez could have reached behind his back and over his shoulder to stab Rivera. The victim, Rivera, was stabbed twice in the back, once in the side, and twice in the chest with the fatal wound perforated his heart.

Dr. Marracini also testified that security video from after the stabbing showed Rivera continuing to be the aggressor, chasing a retreating Rodriguez into a school courtyard.

Rodriguez’s grandmother, Elsa Alfonso, also testified Thursday. She said that when the family told him in a police interview room that Rivera was dead, “He said he had disgraced himself and his future and he cried.”

Alfonso began weeping on the witness stand, as did Rodriguez as he watched from the defense table.

The defense is expected to conclude its case Friday. It intends to call student witnesses who may support Rodriguez’s description of events the day of the stabbing, and hopes to present evidence that Rivera was something of a swaggering bully, who had been involved in a previous conflict in the school cafeteria.

The state claims Rodriguez killed Rivera in a jealous rage over a girl.

More from Gary Nelson
  • madwoman

    Defense experts say what the defense wants them to say… they are PAID to testify and say what it’s convenient to the defense… hogwash is all I hear from these PAID “experts”…

  • Ann

    He stabbed him quite a few times…that is no longer self defense and he was surely prepared for this…i mean who carries a box cutter in their pocket at all times?? hmmm

    • ileanaC

      He stabbed the victim while in a choke hold and the victim would not release him, so yes I can see him jabbing the guy several times until he was released. He then ran away from the victim and the security tapes captures the victim running after Rodriguez clearly indicating the victim as the aggressor.

      • madwoman

        Yeah right! Something tells me that you know the so-called defendant… The defendant deserves to spend the rest of his miserable existence in prison… I wish he would be lynched by an angry mob, but that was discontinued (unfortunately)

      • rpeti

        Was the victim the aggressor? We will never know will we because he is dead. It is all about choices. Mr. Rodriguez chose to carry a weapon to school (which by the way IS NOT ALLOWED). Had he picked up a rock and hit him over the head in self defense it would be a different story. Sorry he made a choice he needs to pay the price.

    • Barbara

      he worked after school at the flea market where he used the BOX CUTTER to CUT BOXES!!!! and in regards to stabbing a few times if you are being attacked MULITPLE times you dont just hit once hoping they stop you continue until someone stops unfortunately it ended in this kid losing his life. Know your facts before you comment. you never know how you would react when you need to defend yourself unexpectedly.

      • Kay


        It amazes me how someone can be as ignorant as you. Self defense would’ve have been stabbing the other kid in the leg or arm to be able to get away and look for help from a teacher. That’s self defense! Stabbing someone in the chest TWICE is MURDER and he deserves to spend the rest of his days in jail. I had a guy that used to open boxes in my warehouse after school and he didn’t carry that box cutter to school or parties?!?!?! You should know your facts before you comment. Let me guess you probably agree with Casey Anthony’s freedom?!?!?

      • rpeti

        In all honesty if he had not had the boxcutter on him he would not be in jail. the other guy may have been the aggressor and if Mr. Rodriguez had picked up a rock and hit him it would have made sense, but he chose to carry that boxcutter (which by the way I am SURE he is not supposed to take to school) He made a choice. Guess what, I don’t own a gun because I don’t trust myself not to use it. It’s all a matter of choices.

      • madwoman

        He’s NOT supposed to carry a box cutter at school… it is a knife and it’s FORBIDDEN in school… you try to make sense but you are making no sense at all, he made a choice, he chose to fatally wound the other kid. He is a MURDERER, and has no place in society. My son goes to the same school and the story he’s telling is different than what really happened that horrible day. He is a vociferous macho-man wannabe, and he got himself into the spot he is right now.

  • yokolee

    Poor families
    they will never be the same
    how can you recover ?

    What ever solution still is a bad solution
    for both families

  • ileanaC

    I truly believe the judge erred in not allowing the students to testify about the victim’s behavior trying to pick fights with other students. This would demonstrate the victim’s aggressive and bullying behavior towards other students and back Rodriguez’s claim that he acted in self defense. I think this is one for appeal.

  • observerfromupnorth

    The victim did not have a lethal weapon, therefore should not have died being stabbed 4 times by a ruthless killer, if let go will kill again. There needs to be justice for the victim and his family.

  • Steve

    Why don’t these kids speak English?
    How can they graduate from High School without English?
    Why do they have to have interpreters in court?
    There’s something wrong with the school system in Miami if they need translation

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