DANIA BEACH (CBSMiami) — A broken headlight, a torn off truck emblem and other scattered vehicle parts are what was left behind after a hit and run crash in Dania Beach that killed an 8-year-old boy last December.
Investigative documents and other materials released by the Broward State Attorney’s Office on Wednesday reveal how detectives literally put the pieces of this investigative puzzle together — aided by a timely tip — to arrest Zachary Benjamins for leaving the scene of an accident that killed Apollo Brown, Jr, 8, and his brother, Kelv’ron Florence, 11.
In court documents, Benjamins and his girlfriend, Anaee Barbieto, told detectives that they were drinking at the Hooters restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel on December 8th. Benjamins told detectives he had “maybe two and a half beers.”
In her interview with investigators, Barbieto said, “…we were hanging out uh drinking, well I drank a lot. And so um I fell when I was drinking and stuff so Zach carried me to the truck and that’s when I fell asleep.”
Detectives say the pair headed to Dania Beach. Investigators say at that same time, Kelv’ron and Apollo were walking home from a basketball game when they were hit by Benjamins who kept on going.
Crime scene photos show the truck’s emblem and other vehicle parts littering the road. A short distance away sat Apollo’s new Air Jordan shoe and one of his socks. The boys were rushed to the hospital. Apollo died a few days later. Kelv’ron was released from the hospital last week.
The day after the accident, detectives say Barbeito called her insurance company to report a hit and run accident but not the one that killed Apollo Brown Junior.
According to a recording of the call released by prosecutors, Barbeito lied about what happened in order to cover up the crime.
BARBEITO: “Me and this car hit and he ran off and now my truck is messed up.”
INSURANCE COMPANY EMPLOYEE: “Was anyone injured in the accident?”
Barbeito told the insurance company that the accident happened around midnight in West Park. Investigators said the accident occurred around 7 pm in Dania Beach.
According to the arrest report, “(Barbeito) admitted she was a passenger in the vehicle when the crash occurred. She had been made aware of the nature of the crash by Zachary Benjamins the following morning and that she knowingly and willingly contacted Progressive Insurance on Dec 9, 2014 and provided false information about how the damage to her vehicle was sustained. When asked about the false insurance claim, she advised she had previously lied to her mother about the incident and felt that she needed to continue the lie.”
Broward Sheriff’s Deputies said Barbeito and Benjamins took the truck to the shop to get repaired and the repair shop owner thought the truck was similar to the one in the high profile crash and called detectives.
Investigative photos show how detectives matched up the truck’s head lights and fog lights to determine that this was the same truck that hit the brothers.
After his arrest, Benjamins told detectives that right after the crash, “He called his friend who was traveling behind him and asked that he check the area because he might have hit someone. His friend informed him there were cops responding to the scene. He explained the following day he learned he had struck two boys.”
Neither Benjamins nor Barbeito wanted to speak with CBS4 News about the newly released evidence against them.
But Apollo Brown Sr, the father of the boys, did.
“How can you really do the kids, like that?” Brown said. “You have no remorse. You knew you hit kids but you want to get your truck fixed and say that you hit someone else. No morals at all.”
Benjamins is charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death and tampering with evidence. Barbeito is accused of tampering with evidence and insurance fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.