Closing Arguments Begin Friday In SoBe Rape, Murder Re-Trial
South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Closing arguments will begin at 8:15 a.m. Friday in the re-trial of an Orlando-area man accused of a South Beach kidnapping, rape and murder a decade ago.
The judge previously scheduled them to begin at 1 p.m., but changed the start time to 8:15 a.m. after a few jurors informed them they have to work Friday night.
Joel Lebron, 33, is one of five men accused in the kidnapping 18-year old Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend Nelson Portobanco in 2002 off a South Beach street. The men then reportedly gang raped Angel before killing her execution style.
First on the stand Thursday was Miami-Dade CSI supervisor Jeffrey Johnsonwho spent most of the morning answering questions about DNA and how it is unique to each individual. Johnson testified that semen was found in the truck where Angel was gang raped but he could not say with certainty that any of it was Lebron’s.
However, Johnson also told the jury that semen found on Angel’s body belonged to Lebron beyond a “statistical certainty.” The odds that the semen was not Lebron’s were twelve billion to one – roughly double the world’s population.
He said blood on a pair of shoes in a plastic bag where Lebron was arrested came from Nelson Portibanco, Angel’s boyfriend.
After the lunch break, the judge announced that closing statements will take place on Thursday and they will be given the case before they adjourn for the day.
Earlier this week, the jury heard testimony from Medical Examiner Christopher Wilson who described the wounds inflicted on Angel’s body in detail.
Miami Beach Crime Scene supervisor Juan Pedroso and Kristie Shaw, a senior crime lab analyst for the toxicology section for FDLE, also testified.
Lebron’s first trial ended in a mistrial two weeks ago when the lead detective of the investigation, Larry Marrero, misspoke on the stand and said a co-defendant has already been convicted. It’s a fact that jurors were not supposed to know so the judge said he was forced to declare a mistrial.
On the stand Monday, Marrero testified that the four other men came down from Orlando and abducted the couple after they had taken a midnight stroll on the beach.
“They decided they didn’t have enough money to get in the club, and would commit a robbery together, they were all in on it,” said Marrero.
Marrero said during questioning Lebron admitted that he ordered Angel and Portobanco into the king cab truck at gunpoint. They then reportedly used the couple’s credit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Prosecutors said the men gang-raped Ana Maria as the truck drove north on I-95. At one point, Lebron and a co-defendant dragged Portobanco from the truck, stabbed him repeatedly, slit his throat and then left him to die on the side of I-95 in Broward County.
Despite his wounds, Portobanco survived.
Prosecutors say Lebron eventually shot and killed Angel off I-95 in Palm Beach County as the young woman begged for her life.
According to Marrero, Lebron allegedly admitted to taking Angel from the truck and “ordering her down to her knees.”
Twice, Lebron allegedly pulled the trigger of a gun placed to the girl’s head and it failed to fire.
“He said that Ana heard the click and began to beg for her life,” said Marrero.
A third pull of the trigger ended Angel’s life. Her body was found two days later.
Charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery and other felonies, Lebron is facing the death penalty if convicted.