Prosecutor says Pedro Bravo poisoned, killed best friend because of 'obsession'

South Fla. man charged in killing of UF student Christian Aguilar

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Opening statements began Tuesday morning in the murder trial of a South Florida man accused of killing his friend while they were in Gainesville for college.

The murder trial of Pedro Bravo began Monday with jury selection, which went relatively quickly thanks to a questionnaire that potential jurors were asked to complete. The 12-member panel was seated by the end of the day, paving the way for opening arguments to begin Tuesday.

Loved ones of Christian Aguilar said he had big dreams to become a doctor in the medical field. The 19-year-old Doral Academy graduate was well on his way to pursuing those aspirations after enrolling at the University of Florida.

However, the promising path for the college freshman was suddenly derailed in September 2012 when the teen was reported missing. Aguilar's family and friends in South Florida repeatedly made the five-hour drive north to Gainesville to help search for their loved one.

Countless candlelight vigils and 22 days later, a hunter made a grisly find in a field in Levy County. It was the partially buried body of Aguilar, whose remains were bound by duct tape.

Detectives were already unraveling a story of rage and anger they said was fueled by jealousy.

Bravo had been taken into custody the day before the body was found in the desolate area. Video images from a Best Buy in Alachua County showed Aguilar was last seen alive with Bravo at the electronics store.

Bravo was also seen on video purchasing a shovel, bandages, duct tape and several incapacitating drugs.

The two were once considered best friends while attending Doral Academy, but their friendship soured after Bravo's ex-girlfriend began to date Aguilar. All three would end up in Gainesville for college -- setting up the deadly twist of circumstances that prosecutors believe led to Aguilar's death.

Prosecutor Brian Kramer spent much of his time Tuesday morning telling jurors about what evidence they will hear in the case and the trail that leads back to Bravo, who has been in jail ever since his arrest.

Erika Friman, who spurned Bravo for Aguilar, testified in court Tuesday afternoon. Friman explained how she told Bravo she didn't want a long-distance relationship and read the text messages Bravo allegedly sent her when he decided to follow her to Gainesville.

"I think I was more in shock because I didn't think someone would just pack up their bags and move that far for a girl," Friman said.

Aguilar's parents both testified, as did Bravo's friend, who said Aguilar felt scorned.

"He has an obsession with her," Kramer told jurors. "He has an obsession with getting her back."

Investigators believe Aguilar was poisoned and killed in a sport utility vehicle before his body was dumped in the field.

Bravo is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, providing false information to law enforcement and improper transport of a dead body.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.