MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A day long recess has been called in the trial of Lighthouse Point man accused of murdering his ex-wife and dumping her body in the ocean after a defense bombshell blindsided prosecutors.
Tuesday afternoon inmate Andres Garcia Florez testified for the prosecution that he and Clifford Friend watched a telenovela in jail last April. During the show’s episode a drug kingpin killed his girlfriend by tying her to an anchor and dumping her into the sea after he found out she was a spy.
According to Garcia, Friend said “Wow it reminds me of what I did. It’s like déjà vu,” according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Garcia added that Friend said, “It’s funny, I just saw myself on TV … that’s how it’s done.”
Friend, 58, is charged of first degree murder in the death of his ex-wife 35-year-old Lynne Friend.
According to prosecutors Friend was enraged that his ex-wife had just won custody of their five-year old son in a bitter custody dispute. On August 28, 1994, he allegedly strangled her and then wrapped body in heavy chains and put it in a duffel bag. He then reportedly called a friend, Alan Gold, to come help him dispose of the body.
Prosecutors said the pair went out in Friend’s boat, put the anchor from the boat in the bag to make sure there was enough weight and then dumped the body. They were surprised by Custom’s agents who saw them dumping something overboard. As Friend’s boat raced away, the Customs boat chased them. The agents thought they were going after drug runners, but after stopping and questioning them, let Friend and Gold go.
Garcia, who is serving a 30-year sentence for drug trafficking, admitted he was working with the authorities in hopes of shaving time off his sentence.
During cross-examination, Friend’s attorney Peter Heller tried to introduce records which reportedly showed that Friend was on a jail phone call during the entire telenovela episode and couldn’t have watched it with Garcia.
The prosecution said they never heard this claim. The judge then cut the day’s proceedings short so they could investigate them.
On Wednesday testimony was delayed as Judge Teresa Pooler considered whether the defense violated rules of procedure by not disclosing jailhouse phone logs to the prosecution. The defense insists the phone records should be allowed in because they were readily available to the prosecution.
Around 1 p.m., Judge Pooler gave the state a 24 hour recess to investigate the accuracy of the jail phone records. If they find the records are accurate, prosecutors may strike Garcia as a witness and the judge would presumably instruct the jury to disregard his testimony.
Gold, who did not cooperate with prosecutors until 2013, testified last week that Friend admitted to strangling his wife.
Gold said Clifford called him and asked him to go over his house. Gold said he was not feeling well but went anyways.
When he arrived to Friend’s house he saw a large equipment bag in the dinning room, said Gold. He said Friend told him Lynne had come over and was upset he was not letting her take their 5-year old son to Tennessee.
“He basically said the next thing he knew it was over, he knocked her down and choked her,” said Gold.
Gold later said Friend asked him to help him dump Lynne’s car and he did. They arrived to an empty lot near Lynne’s home in North Miami Beach near county line road and Gold slashed one of her tires.
They then went back to Friend’s home, picked up the bag, drove to the boat at 5600 Collins Avenue. That’s where Gold lived.
Clifford loaded the body onto the boat and the took it out some 10 miles, according to Gold.
“He jumped back grabbed a hold of one side I grabbed the other and it went over the side,” said Gold.
Friend is facing a life without parole sentence if he is convicted.
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