MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Police surrounded a house on the 16000 block of SW 107th Ct where they believed a man who allegedly shot his girlfriend is hiding, but after an investigation they found the house was empty and ended the search.
Police believed Jose Duarte, 31, may have been in the home when they surrounded it. Duarte is the prime suspect in the shooting of his girlfriend, Yissel Milanes, earlier in the week during a party at an apartment in Kendall.
Police said Duarte and Milanes were at the party when a fight escalated to the point where Duarte allegedly pulled a gun and shot Milanes in the head.
As the party goers scattered in all directions; Duarte, with gun in hand, stole a partygoer’s SUV.
Police said Duarte drove to his aunt’s home in Hialeah where he switched vehicles and drove off in her dark green Jeep. When police went to the aunt’s home, they found the stolen vehicle with a gun inside.
Miami-Dade police spotted it in a shopping center parking lot at Bird Road and SW 152nd Avenue. Duarte was no where in sight.
But it’s what happened before the shooting that has spawned big questions for federal authorities and their handling of Duarte.
Before Duarte allegedly shot his girlfriend, he had a laundry list of arrests for battery, assault, and violence against his girlfriend and her small children. Duarte wasn’t convicted in any of those cases.
But, CBS4’s Gary Nelson learned Duarte should arguably have been in federal prison at the time of this week’s shooting. Documents show he was convicted on a litany of charges of identity theft and credit card fraud.
He was later re-arrested after violating his bail by testing positive for cocaine.
On January 27, Judge Patricia Seitz sentenced Duarte to 90 months in jail. Then she re-instated his bond and he was released and ordered to surrender himself to federal prison at a later date.
A long-time friend of the victim, who asked not to be identified was incensed.
“Why did the judge, the judges are stupid, knowing that he has that criminal record,” said the friend.
The judge’s order let Duarte go back to the arms of Milanes, the woman he allegedly abused. Yissel took him back, which is not uncommon among victims and accusers.
“They apologize and tell them they’re sorry,” said Oscie Fryer of Miami-Dade Safespace. “They tell them it will never happen again. And so they accept them back into their lives. If he had not been released the shooting would not have occurred. However, again, I would not like to second-guess the judge.”
Duarte was supposed to surrender himself to a federal prison next Tuesday.
Judge Seitz declined to comment for this story. A government spokesperson said the government did support Duarte’s release temporarily while he helped with the investigation of the identity theft ring before he went to prison.
If you have any information about Duarte or the shooting, call Miami-Dade police at (305) 476-5423 or Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.