MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Beach police detective who inadvertently caused a mistrial at the South Beach kidnapping, rape and murder trial took the stand late Monday morning at suspect Joel Lebron’s retrial.
Lebron is one of five men accused in the kidnapping, rape and murder of 18-year-old Ana Maria Angel in 2002.
Lebron’s trial ended abruptly two weeks ago when detective Larry Marrerro, the lead detective on the case, misspoke on the stand and said a co-defendant was earlier convicted of the slaying. It’s a fact that jurors were not supposed to know so the judge said he was forced to declare a mistrial.
Monday, Det. Marrero took the stand after an FDLE agent testified about the recovery of the murder weapon from an apartment in Orlando where one of the suspects lived. He also testified about Ana Maria’s drivers’ license and credit cards that were also found in the apartment.
Prosecutors said Lebron, 33, and four other men came down from Orlando and abducted Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend Nelson Portobanco from South Beach after a midnight stroll on the beach.
“They decided they didn’t have enough money to get in the club, and would commit a robbery together, they were all in on it,” testified Marrero.
Marrero said during questioning when he was taken into custody, Lebron admitted that he ordered Angel and Portobanco into the king cab truck at gunpoint. They then reportedly used the couple’s credit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Prosecutors said the men gang-raped Ana Maria as the truck drove north on I-95. On the stand Marrero described what Lebron reportedly told him.
“She began crying and begging for him to stop. She was crying throughout it and begging for them to stop,” said Marrero.
At one point, Lebron and a co-defendant dragged Portobanco from the truck, stabbed him repeatedly, slit his throat and left him to die on the side of I-95 in Broward County.
“At one point he said the victim was not looking at him and he asked him to look at him and he stabbed him one more time in the face,” said Marrero.
Despite his wounds, Portobanco survived.
Prosecutors say Lebron eventually shot and killed Ana Maria off I-95 in Palm Beach County as the young woman begged for her life.
According to Marrero, Lebron allegedly admitted to taking Angel from the truck and “ordering her down to her knees.”
Twice, Lebron allegedly pulled the trigger of a gun placed to the girl’s head and it failed to fire.
“He said that Ana heard the click and began to beg for her life,” said Marrero.
A third pull of the trigger ended Angel’s life. Her body was found two days later.
In the courtroom Angel’s mother, Margarita Osorio, listened as the detective testified and wept quietly.
Lebron confessed to the murder, prosecutors say, and is linked to the crime by DNA and fingerprint evidence. One hitch for the state is that a technical error prevented a tape recorder from capturing Lebron’s alleged confession.
Charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery and other felonies, Lebron is facing the death penalty if convicted.