MIAMI – The sentencing phase for Joel Lebron, who was convicted last week in the 2002 kidnap, rape, and murder of Ana Maria Angel, continued for the second day.
Last Friday, a jury found Lebron guilty of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, sexual battery and sexual battery with a firearm.
On Wednesday, that same jury listened to arguments for and against the death penalty. Magarita Osorio, Angel's mother, took the stand and brought Angel's soccer medals and honor cords.
"To the whole family, it's difficult and it still is," Osorio said in Spanish.
"She was warm, compassionate, loving, caring," said Laura Isabel Duque, a friend of Angel. "She loved music and dancing specifically."
But the testimony jurors must use to recommend the death penalty for Lebron is about him -- whether he was cold and calculated during the kidnap, rape, and murder of Angel.
Jurors also heard a detective recount his question to Lebron after his arrest.
"'How did it feel to kill the young lady?'" said Det. Armando Sarabia. "He says, 'I felt like a king.'"
Lebron's attorneys gave the jury mitigating factors. His sister who demonstrated how he walked after a childhood car crash and a defense hired psychologist said a brain injury at the time of the crash changed Lebron.
"As a result, he changed cognitively, meaning he behaved differently," said psychologist Robert Ouaou.
The jury's recommendation doesn't have to be unanimous.
According to investigators, Angel was 18-years-old in the spring of 2002 when she was out celebrating an anniversary with Nelson Portobanco, her boyfriend at the time, 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.
Prior to Lebron's conviction, three of the five defendants had already been convicted. Two were sentenced to life in prison; one is awaiting a second sentencing hearing because his death penalty sentence was overturned.