Boyfriend of Ana Maria Angel takes stand in 2002 murder trial

Joel Lebron one of 5 men accused in case

MIAMI – Opening statements were heard in the trial of one of the men accused of kidnapping, raping, and killing a South Florida teen in 2002.

Joel Lebron, now 33, is one of the five men accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering Ana Maria Angel.

The jury listened to opening arguments Wednesday, where the prosecutors described the murder in detail.

"During all of this, she is begging, crying and pleading," said prosecutor Laura Adams.

Angel was 18-years-old in the spring of 2002, two months from graduating South Miami High, when she was out celebrating an anniversary with her boyfriend Nelson Portobanco on South Beach when five people kidnapped them and forced them into their truck at gunpoint, said investigators.

Joel Lebron is one of the five men accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering Ana Maria Angel.

Portobanco took the stand Wednesday and described the kidnap and rape of his girlfriend.

"They ordered us to keep our heads down and our eyes closed and then they demanded that we give them all our belongings," Portobanco said.

Shortly after being robbed, Portobanco said he could hear the men inside the truck sexually assaulting Angel.

"She was crying, asking them to stop," Portobanco said.

As they rode north to Orlando where the defendants came from, Angel was repeatedly raped and Nelson was beaten, said prosecutors. Police said Portobanco was eventually thrown out of the truck along I-95 and left for dead.

"I was stabbed multiple times in my face, my back, my arm, and back of my head," Portobanco said.

The five are accused of killing Angel execution-style at the side of I-95 near Boca Raton to keep her from identifying them. Police said Lebron was the gunman.

A jury was selected Tuesday evening. Many in the jury pool told the judge they remembered the case, even ten years later.

Three of the five have been convicted. Two were sentenced to life in prison; one is awaiting a second sentencing hearing since his death penalty sentence was overturned.

If convicted, Lebron could face the death penalty.