Jurors have returned a not guilty verdict in the case of Eulices Barrios, the man accused of manslaughter in the death of Domingo Vilalta.
Prosecutors had said Barrios should have known that when he threw Domingo Vilalta, 22, off of his boat, Vilalta was in danger of losing his life.
It happened in 2010 in Intracoastal Waterway south of Oleta State Park. Vilalta was with a large group of people partying on the sandbar near the Haulover bridge. At the end of the day, he hopped on Barrios' boat to go to shore but halfway there, the boat stopped and a girl jumped into the water to go to the bathroom. That's when witnesses said Vilalta suddenly hopped into the captains seat and put the boat in gear, putting the girl in the water dangerously close to the spinning propellers.
Barrios was angry and threw Vilalta off of his boat and into the water. Barrios told police he saw the younger man swim over to another boat a few feet away and thought he got on board so he drove away. Police said the other boat driver didn't see Vilalta and accidentally ran over him, killing him.
Prosecutors told the jury that Barrios was culpably negligent because he should have known his actions would put Vilalta's life in jeopardy.
"He knew he was impaired, he knew the water was busy, and what does he do? He just drives off, drives off without ensuring Domingo Vilalta was safe," said prosecutor Chiaka Ihekwaba.
But defense attorneys successfully argued that Barrios could not have foreseen the unfortunate ending to his confrontation with Vilalta that night. Furthermore, they pointed out that under the law, Barrios had no obligation to make sure Vilalta got on the other boat safely.
"Mr. Alvarez-Barrios has a duty to ensure the safety of Domingo Vilalta? You'll never hear that, but that's their whole theory -- they're relying on a theory that has no foundation in law", said Edward O'Donnell, Barrios' defense attorney.