MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A man accused of killing a Miami police officer during a traffic stop in 1988 accepted a plea deal Wednesday.
Dennis Escobar pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second degree murder in the death of Miami cop Victor Estefan.
The courtroom was filled with officers and members of Estefan’s family members, some of whom spoke at the hearing.
“God forgives. We don’t,” Estefan’s grandson Angel, Jr. proclaimed.
Escobar accepted a 37-year sentence, including credit for time served. He was arrested in September 1989.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime and sentenced to 15 years for that offense. The sentences are to be served concurrently with two life sentences he’s already serving for trying to kill two California highway patrol troopers.
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Escobar declined to address the court, instead, his attorney, Phil Reizenstein, said his client would not speak “completely and only out of respect for the family of the victim. We have always known that Officer Estefan died a hero and I for one will never forget it.”
But Estefan’s family did not hold back.
“Dennis, why did you kill my dad? Why did you do this?” an emotional Angel Estefan asked. “You killed him in cold blood.”
Angel Estefan said his father was a terrific man who loved his wife, his children and his grandchildren.
Angel Estefan, Jr. was just 3-years old when his grandfather was killed.
“I hope you rot in hell and meet the devil firsthand,” he said. “May the last days of your life be the most horrible experience.”
Estefan’s wife added, “You’re an assassin, a cop killer. You will pay for what you did to my husband.”
After leaving the courtroom, the Estefan family expressed their dissatisfaction with the deal.
“The system failed us today,” Angel Estefan said. “When you kill a cop, you get life in prison or you get the death sentence.”
Prosecutor Reid Rubin said the family has been aware of the terms of the deal since last year.
“The family authorized the plea negotiations,” Rubin said. “There’s nothing we could do.”
Escobar was previously found guilty and sentenced to death, but the case was overturned on appeal.
His 2013 trial was declared a mistrial and an earlier attempt at a plea deal fell apart at the last-minute.
His brother, Douglas Escobar, accepted a similar plea for the same case last year.
Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa was in the courtroom Wednesday.
Orosa, who was sworn in as an officer in 1980, served alongside Estefan for about 8 years, but he says he knew the man since Orosa himself was a child.
“We used to play football in the streets of Little Havana and Victor would come around to us and tell us to be safe,” Orosa said.
The Chief had also hoped Escobar would get a harsher sentence.
“He did get away with it. he’s getting nothing more than what he got in California. But it’s understandable that the state needed to come to some sort of closure in this case, for the state, for the family and for everybody,” Chief Orosa said. “It’s comforting to know this is over.”
According to the prosecutor, Escobar is expected to be shipped to California to serve out his sentence in the coming days.
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