MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial of a South Florida man accused of killing a former high school pal in Gainesville.
Pedro Bravo, 20, is charged with first degree murder in the death of University of Florida student Christian Aguilar. Both he and Bravo were Doral Academy graduates.
The first witness called up by prosecution was Aguilar’s dad, Carlos, followed by his mother.
Prosecution and defense also gave their opening statements on Tuesday.
During his opening statement, prosecutor Brian Kramer told the jury that ‘this was a tale as old as time’ and ‘this is about the elimination of a rival fueled by jealousy, hatred and anger’.
Among the items presented to the jury was Bravo’s journal/sketch book in which Kramer claimed he obsessed over his ex-girlfriend Erika Friman who was now going out with Aguilar.
One passage read, “All this time, all these girls I’ve seen, all who talked to me and I still want you. Its been so long and I still want you. You were mine and I was yours, now I am just yours.”
Another noted “I want to give up everything to be with her again.”
Kramer said the journal entries and computer searches he performed were proof that he planned to kill Aguilar.
Among the computer searches Bravo reportedly performed were ‘what murders get solved’, cutting veins, and anesthetics.
Kramer also told the jury about the drugs and duct tape Bravo bought at Walmart the day he searched Google for chloroform and anesthesia.
Bravo, a former Santa Fe College student, is accused of killing Aguilar, 18, sometime after the two were captured on surveillance video at a Gainesville Best Buy on September 20th, 2012.
Kramer said Aguilar was killed in Bravo’s car in a Walmart parking lot by strangulation; it took 13 minutes.
Prosecutors say he may have strangled him with a belt found in the backseat over Aguilar’s DNA. There was also an empty Gatorade bottle in the car.
“This bottle contains dyphenhydromine and acetaminophen. Those are the same contents of the Zquil that is cut open and of the Equate that has been separated and emptied. That is planning to poison someone, ” said Kramer.
It wasn’t until October 12th, following a massive volunteer search, that Aguilar’s body was discovered by hunters deep in the woods. His body was half-buried in Levy County, an hour from the UF campus.
“It wasn’t enough to murder Christian Aguilar. He had to make him disappear because he had a plan. For 22 days in late September, Pedro Bravo’s plan was a success. Chris disappeared,” said Prosecutor Brian Kramer on Tuesday.
The state also made connections from Bravo to Aguilar’s grave.
Police later found blood in Bravo’s SUV and Aguilar’s backpack hidden in his closet. They also found a receipt showing Bravo purchased a shovel and duct tape just days before Aguilar’s disappearance. Kramer then pointed out that duct tape was found next to Aguilar’s foot and his wrists are bound to his neck with tape as well. He added that Bravo revealed the location of the shovel to an inmate who turned it over to investigators.
The same limestone found on his tires was found on the shovel he had bought days before.
Kramer wrapped up his opening statement just before noon.
In his opening statement Bravo’s defense attorney, Michael Ruppert, told the jury that Bravo and Aguilar got into an argument in a wooded section near where his body would later be found. He said Aguilar told Bravo ‘why don’t you just kill yourself’. The two fought and Bravo left Aguilar bloody but conscious.
Ruppert said while his client may have been suicidal and depressed over his ex-girlfriend, he did not have premeditation to kill.
“Pedro was wrong for getting into a fight with his friend. Pedro was wrong for leaving his friend in the condition that he was in but he did not kill Christian Aguilar, and he had no premeditation to kill Christian Aguilar,” said Defense Michael Ruppert.
Bravo, who was 18 at the time, stands charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping, poisoning and other crimes. He is not expected to testify during the trial.
The state is not seeking the death penalty. Bravo could face life in prison.
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