Former cellmate takes stand in Pedro Bravo murder trial

Michael Angelo claims Bravo confessed to killing Christian Aguilar

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A former cellmate of a man on trial for a murder charge told jurors Wednesday that the suspect confessed to him in private conversations.

Pedro Bravo is charged with first-degree murder and a host of other charges in connection with the 2012 disappearance and killing of Christian Aguilar.

Michael Angelo, a nine-time convicted felon and former gang member, shared a jail cell with Bravo in late 2012 after Bravo was arrested on suspicions of carrying out the murder. Police suspected Bravo, then 18, from the start.

"Did he talk to you about getting rid of Mr. Aguilar's body," asked prosecutor Brian Kamer.

"Yes, he did," replied Angelo.

Angelo's testimony was heavy on details about the crime he claims Bravo shared with him during multiple conversations. However, Angelo was unaware of specific time frames or dates the alleged conversations took place.

"I think originally he said he was going to try and poison him with a mixture of sleeping pills and pesticide mixed with soda. And his backup plan was to have a knife in case it didn't work," said Angelo.

The jury was also made aware of the fact that Angelo was facing a life-in-prison sentence for his past crimes but made a deal with prosecutors to get the time reduced in exchange for his testimony.

Angelo, who was escorted into the courtroom shackled at the feet and in a prison uniform, claimed he knew where to find the shovel that was used to bury the University of Florida freshman. 

"He said a wooden walkway, bridge-type thing," said Angelo.

The shovel was found underneath a boardwalk outside of Bravo's Gainesville apartment complex. Forensic experts later tied the soil from the shovel to dirt in  the field where Aguilar's body was recovered. Those same experts say dirt found underneath Bravo's SUV also matched the same soil sample. Aguilar's body was found partially buried in a neighboring county three weeks after he was reported missing.

"He started digging a hole, but he couldn't get too far into the hole because he ended up hitting lime-rock, and the shovel wouldn't get past the lime-rock and he got tired," said Angelo.

Defense attorneys used their time to point out Angelo's criminal record and the fact his freedom was also on the line, thanks to the plea deal.

However, Angelo didn't appear to be rattled and even shared a story he said Bravo told him about how he was able to overpower Aguilar.

Prosecutors believe Aguilar was strangled in the back seat of Bravo's SUV while it was parked outside a Walmart where Bravo is seen on surveillance video buying a shovel.

"He got out like he had to find something in the back seat," said Angelo. "And he told me that when he was back there, he basically put a moving strap around the kid's neck and braced himself against the seat, and he said he remembers watching the radio and it took, I guess, 13 minutes for the kid to die."

Investigators have said Bravo was upset at Aguilar, who was dating Bravo's ex-girlfriend.

All three were mutual friends at Doral Academy and wound up in Gainesville for college.

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