Jury issues guilty verdict in kidnapping-murder trial

Joel Lebron convicted of killing Ana Maria Angel in 2002

MIAMI – The jury found Joel Lebron, one of five men accused of kidnapping, raping, and murdering Ana Maria Angel in 2002, guilty on all charges he was facing, including first-degree murder.

The jury also found Lebron guilty of attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, sexual battery and sexual battery with a firearm. The jury deliberated for just over an hour.

Magarita Osorio, Angel's mother, was in the courtroom when the "guilty" verdict was read by Judge William Thomas.

"I feel better now that it is done," said Osorio.

Lebron could face the death penalty. Osario said she is calling for it.

Prosecutors offered no comments afterwards.

"I apologize. It would be inappropriate for me to comment," said Prosecutor Reid Rubin.

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

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.

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, now 33, was the gunman.

On Thursday, a DNA expert took the stand. Earlier this week, a forensic examiner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent and Miami Beach Police Detective Larry Marreno testified. Two weeks ago, Marreno's testimony led the judge to declare a mistrial.

Both Portobanco and Magarita Osorio, Angel's mother, took the stand on the first day of the trial.

Prior to Lebron's conviction, three of the five defendants had been convicted. Two were sentenced to life in prison; one is awaiting a second sentencing hearing because his death penalty sentence was overturned.