GAINESVILLE (CBSMiami) – A jailhouse snitch took center stage Wednesday morning in the trial of Pedro Bravo who is accused of killing former classmate Christian Aguilar.
Bravo is accused of strangling Aguilar, 18, on September 20th, 2012 because of his obsession with his former girlfriend Erika Friman, who Aguilar was dating. Bravo, Aguilar and Friman all attended the Doral Academy.
Michael Angelo was Bravo’s cellmate in the Alachua County jail. Hesaid Bravo confessed to him. Angelo said he is getting a break on his sentence for testifying.
Angelo said Bravo told him he planned the murder in advance. He said Bravo initially told him he planned to poison him, slit his throat or choke him. He said Bravo even talked about the moment he said he killed Aguilar in his SUV.
“He got out like he had to find something in the back seat, he put a moving strap behind his neck, braced hiself and it took 13 minutes to die,” said Angelo.
Angelo said Bravo told him Aguilar tried to open the door once, but he just tightened his grip. He also said at one point, he nearly got caught. “he said he kinda got freaked out because while he was holding on to the strap that the security guard in the golf cart had rode by.
Bravo reportedly told Angelo that as he drove around with Aguilar’s body in the back seat, he continued to pull on the strap. “He was riding around to dispose of the body, he was making a sound like (gasp, gasp) and that’s the reason he held on to the strap while he was riding around because it freaked him out.”
Bravo then explained how he wrapped Aguilar’s body in duct tape and drove about 60 miles out of town where he buried it in a shallow grave in a wooded area, according to Angelo.
The defense countered that Angelo heard the details about the murder on the news. Angelo said he couldn’t recall which dates he and Bravo had their conversations or whether it was before or after Aguilar’s body was found.
When questioned by police after Aguilar’s disappearance, Bravo admitted that he and Christian fought but added that the last time he saw his friend he was alive.
“I pushed him out of the car, then I got out of the car then I kept punching him,” Bravo told investigators at the time. “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.”
Also on the stand Wednesday Dr. Jason Bryd, associate director of the University of Florida’s Maple Center for Forensic Medicine, testified that based on the age of insects where Aguilar’s body was found he would say death occurred on or before September 30th, but could not get anymore specific.
Byrd explained that insect growth is based on temperature dependent and he used the temperature and insects from the gravesite to estimate time of death.
The defense points out that according to this evidence, Aguilar could have been alive up until September 29th.
Dr. Willie Harris, a UF soil professor, was then called to the stand. Harris said when he examined dirt samples from the shovel, from the site where Aguilar’s body was found and from Bravo’s SUV he found “the material from the shovel was very similar to the material on the body. THey had the same components.”
The prosecution is trying to prove that Bravo’s shovel had dirt on in from the gravesite area. Harris said soil from shovel had the same components as soil near body. They had a lot of goethite, which isn’t common in Alachua county. He added that the soil at the apartment building where the shovel was found did not have any goethite.
Next on the stand was Dr. Micheal Warren, a UF anthropology professor and director of the C.A. Pound Human Identification Lab. Warren assisted the Medical Examiner’s Office in recovering and examining Aguilar’s body. He added the grave site was spread out due to weather and animal interference. He said in that area there were turkey vulters, wild dogs, pigs and coyotes among other animals. Some of the bones were scattered in the area.
Warren said when he first looked over the remains, he noted that they had duct tape looped around the wrists, ankles and neck. He estimated the burial took approximately 30 to 60 minutes.
When asked about the time of death, Warren said he couldn’t be specific. He said the body had been dead more than 7 days, but probably less than three weeks.
Aguilar’s body was found on October 12th, approximately three weeks after he disappeared.
At the end of testimony Wednesday, the prosecution informed the judge they only had one more witness who they planned to put on the stand on Thursday. The judge then adjoined for the day and said the trial would resume at 9 a.m.
Bravo will decide Thursday if he will take the stand in his own defense. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
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