Pedro Bravo: Plans of suicide behind key pieces of evidence against him

South Fla. man accused of killing UF freshman in Gainesville


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A 20-year-old man accused of killing his friend took the stand in his own defense Thursday.

The surprising move by Pedro Bravo left little to the imagination for a curious jury, who has spent nearly two weeks listening to a stream of evidence and testimony in the case.

Bravo, wearing a business suit, began the day of statements by explaining the nature of his friendship with Christian Aguilar.

"He was a really good friend of mine," said Bravo.

The two had known each other since middle school in Miami-Dade County and wound up in Gainesville at the same time for college. However, Bravo's intent was to reconnect with an ex-girlfriend who was dating Aguilar.

"Erika (Friman) went to Gainesville and I still loved her," Bravo said. "I was still very enamored with her and I wanted to get back with her."

Prosecutors believe Bravo felt betrayed and used that as a plot for murder. Aguilar, a University of Florida freshman, was last seen alive with Bravo on the day he disappeared.

The two Doral Academy graduates fought, but Bravo initially kept that story from detectives.

"I strike him with an open palm on the face and I strike him again on the other side of the face and then I slip and hit him with an elbow," explained Bravo.

Bravo claimed he dropped Aguilar off alive but injured on the side of the road.

Aguilar's body was found weeks later partially buried in a field. Bravo was arrested shortly after the disappearance on suspicion of murder.

Investigators later found traces of Aguilar's blood in Bravo's SUV and soil samples on his truck which matched dirt on a shovel recovered near his apartment -- both of which were identical to dirt in the field where Aguilar's body was found.

Surveillance video from a Walmart shows Bravo purchasing a poisonous concoction of over-the-counter drugs and a shovel on the day Aguilar was reported missing. But Bravo told the jury that those items were for himself.

"In a way, I was going to go find a spot and I was going to mark my tomb and I was going to dig it," said Bravo, who claims he was contemplating suicide at the time. "The bottle had acetaminophen, ZzzQuil and it had a little bit of pesticide as well."

"And you bought all those things," asked Bravo's defense attorney, Michael Ruppert.

"Yes, it was to kill myself," replied Bravo.

The court heard from a jailhouse snitch the day before who claimed Bravo confessed to him details about the murder while the two shared a cell in late 2012.

However, Bravo claims he was threatened by Michael Angelo -- a nine-time convicted felon and former gang member and was forced to write down things that were not true.

Prosecutors wasted no time pouncing on holes in Bravo's story.

"You're on your way to kill yourself, right, but you've got to get gas first, yes," asked prosecutor Brian Kramer.

"Right," replied Bravo.

"OK, because you can't kill yourself without a (full) tank of gas, correct," asked Kramer.

"Correct," said Bravo.

Closing arguments are expected to start Friday and the jury will begin deliberating Bravo's fate shortly after. Bravo is charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

Follow Terrell Forney on Twitter @TVTerrell

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