GAINESVILLE (CBSMiami) – The jury in the murder trial of Pedro Bravo got chance to hear what he told police about the disappearance of his friend Christian Aguilar in his own words.
Bravo is accused of strangling Aguilar, 18, in September 2012 because of his obsession with his former girlfriend Erika Friman. Bravo, Aguilar and Friman all attended the Doral Academy.
Monday morning after listening to a police forensics expert testify about the dirt found on Bravo’s car, University of Florida police Sergeant Stephen Wilder was called to the stand.
Wilder conducted the second interview with Bravo after Aguilar’s disappearance. On the video, Bravo tells Wilder that the last time he saw his friend the two discussed his depression and his wanting to commit suicide. He said Aguilar tried to talk him out of it.
“He’s one of my good friends and he’s one of the only people who could help me,” said Bravo.
“He’d gone through the same thing and I knew he’d be there for me,” he added.
He said at one point they picked up a hitchhiker and then dropped him off.
Bravo said they got into a heated argument and Christian wanted out of the car so he dropped him off.
“I made a comment about this girl he liked for three years (not Erica), he got mad and told me to stop the car,” said Bravo.
“I was angry and stopped the car and said ‘fine, get out’,” added Bravo.
Bravo originally told police he and Christian had a verbal argument, then he said it turned physical.
“I was sitting here in the car, and I remember he said something and I just punched him across the face.”
Bravo said that’s when he kicked Christian out of the car, but the detective was still not buying it. He’s afraid it’s even worse.
“How many times did you hit him,” he asked Bravo.
“Once. Just once,” said Bravo later adding, “I don’t want him to be found a skeleton by his parents and not be able to have a funeral.”
Under questioning as to whether police would find Aguilar alive, Bravo’s story changed.
“I stopped the car, I got out and started a small fight with him and then I left,” said Bravo.
Then his story became more defined.
“I pushed him out of the car, then I got out of the car then I kept punching him,” said Bravo. “I really hope he’s okay. When I left the scene it was me, I was just there whaling on him, then I kept going until I could see he was okay but he couldn’t move anymore. Then I drove away.”‘
Aguilar’s body was found dead weeks later, partially buried in a wooded section. Investigators believe he was poisoned in the back of Bravo’s SUV and then strangled, possibly with a belt.
After leaving Aguilar, Bravo told Wilder “I was really mad and annoyed. I didn’t care to look back.” He said he later regretted not going back.
Bravo said he had trouble sleeping that night. He said he took four sleeping pills and went to bed. He said he woke up in the middle of the night, checked his phone and went back to sleep. Bravo said he then woke up around 3 a.m. and the power went off. He said he later got a call from Erika asking if she had heard from Aguilar.
“That’s when I learned he did not make it back to his dorm room. His roommate called and said he was not there. The last I saw of him, I dropped him off,” said Bravo.
“I couldn’t get back to sleep, I kind of felt guilty, I dropped him off and left him. What if he didn’t get back to his dorm,” said Bravo.
“I just really hope he’s lost,” Bravo told Wilder. “I’ll be happy if he’s lost.”
When asked how he felt about Aguilar dating Friman, Bravo replied “Well she deserves the best” and ” I don’t have a problem with them dating.”
Bravo told police he had duct tape in his car because of a cracked windshield.
He added that said Friman told him that Aguilar had called his father after he dropped him off.
Wilder testified that after interviewing Bravo, his department contacted Gainesville police and got them involved.
Aguilar’s body was found in October 2012.
Last week, Mark Trahan, a Gainesville Police Department Crime Scene Investigator, testified that he found traces of blood on the bottom of a paint can and a shoe insole from inside Bravo’s car. He added the shovel Bravo bought to bury Aguilar was found under a boardwalk in an apartment complex.
Prosecutors also played security footage from Walmart and Lowes appearing to show Aguilar purchasing the shovel, and other items, including a knife.
The state also showed video stills showing an SUV similar to Bravo’s coming in and out of his apartment complex multiple times around one o’clock the next morning – after Aguilar vanished.
Friman testified Aguilar had concerns about meeting her ex-boyfriend. Friman told the courtroom she was shocked when Bravo moved to Gainesville from Miami and lied to him about dating Aguilar so she didn’t “push him over the edge.”
According to Friman, she assisted with arranging a meeting between Aguilar and Bravo so that Aguilar could help Bravo work through depression.
Friman said she and Aguilar had plans later that night for dinner, but he never showed.
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