A jury has advised that one of five men charged with allegedly abducting a teenage couple at gunpoint, raping and killing one and leaving the other for dead, be sentenced to death.
A jury split nine to three in favor of the death penalty for Victor Caraballo. Caraballo and the other men were charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, armed sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, and two counts each of armed kidnapping and armed robbery for the events that took place April 27, 2002.
Nelson Portobanco and his girlfriend, Ana Maria Angel, were both 18-year-old high school seniors at the time. They were walking back to their car on South Beach after a date when, Portobanco said, the men jumped the couple and pushed them into the pickup truck. He said they then drove north, gang-raping Angel while he was ordered to keep his head down. It is believed the couple were the victims of a random attack.
Police said Angel was driven farther and shot to death. Her body was found near Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County.
Caraballo was the first of five Orlando-area men to stand trial in connection with Angel's abduction, rape and death.
He told a judge on Wednesday that he would prefer the death penalty, Local 10 reported.
Angel's mother, Margarita Osorio, speaking through a Spanish translator, said that she "feels satisfied that a person like that isn't going to be among us" and that "Anna Maria was a tender girl. She was also a just girl. This verdict would bring a sense of peace to Anna Maria," said Osorio.
Caraballo's defense attorney said that Caraballo did not pull the trigger, therefore he should receive life in prison. The defense also said that Caraballo is mentally retarded.
The jury's recommendation will carry weight, but a judge will make the final decision. Sentencing will be held next month.
All five men pleaded not guilty. The four other men in the case still need to stand trial.
- April 15, 2007: Verdict Reached In South Beach Murder Trial
- April 10, 2007: South Beach Victim Told Men To 'Stop,' Boyfriend Testifies