MIAMI (CBS4) – Jury selection is expected to begin Wednesday in the trial of a Joel Lebron, one of the men accused in the rape and murder of South Miami teen Ana Maria Angel, after his case abruptly ended in a mistrial last week.
On the stand last Thursday, Miami Beach Detective Larry Marrero committed a gaffe which forced Judge William Thomas to dismiss the jury. The selection process for a new jury will get underway today.
During his testimony, Marrero made reference to a previously convicted defendant. Marrero testified that he and other investigators were led to previously convicted suspect Victor Caraballo in Orlando by calls made on the victims’ cell. They were then led to Joel Lebron and three other suspects.
The mention of Caraballo drew howls of objection from the defense and a heated lecture to prosecutors by Judge Thomas.
Marrero also testified that during questioning Lebron confessed to the crimes. He admitted, however, to what defense attorney Jeff Fink called a “huge screw-up.” A technical glitch resulted in a tape recorder not capturing Lebron’s statement. Because of that jurors will have to decide whether to take the investigators’ word for what Lebron said.
According to Marrero, Lebron told investigators he and four other men had driven down to South Beach “just to party.”
“All the individuals decided to plan a robbery,” Marrero said in recounting Lebron’s confession. “They didn’t have enough money to party.”
“He told me he saw a couple coming down the walkway, and he pointed a weapon at them, a firearm, a gun, and he ordered them into the truck.”
The detective said Lebron told him and a FDLE agent that the men used 18-year old Ana Mara Angel and her boyfriend Nelson Portobaco’s ATM cards to withdraw cash and put gas in the truck. They then hopped on I-95, headed north, where they proceed to beat Portoblanco and gang rape Angel.
“She was crying and begging them to stop,” Marrero quoted Lebron as saying.
Marrero told the jury that Lebron confessed to raping Ana Maria and forcing her to perform sex acts.
Later, Lebron said he dragged Portobanco from the truck on the shoulder of I-95 in Broward and began to stab him, according to the detective.
“He stabbed him repeatedly. At one point Lebron said ‘look at me’ and he stabbed him in the face,” said Marrero.
His throat slashed, Portobanco was left for dead but he remarkably survived.
The detective said Lebron described later leading Angel from the truck in Palm Beach County into some bushes by the interstate.
“He ordered her to get down on her knees,” the detective said.
Twice, Lebron said, he pulled the trigger and his gun misfired, according to Marrero who added that it was then that Angel realized Lebron intended to kill her.
“She’s begging him not to do this to her,” Marrero said.
A third pull of the trigger fired a round into the back of Angel’s head.
As the detective described the defendant’s confession, Angel’s mother wept in the audience, tears streaming down her face. When asked why he killed the teen, Marrero said that Lebron replied matter of factly.
“He told me she probably could identify them,” Marrero told the jury.