MIAMI – A man who police said confessed to killing his uncle and mutilating family pets appeared in front of a judge for the first time Tuesday.
Carlos Zuluaga was arrested Monday on charges of second-degree murder and animal cruelty, accused of killing Carlos Nino and then dumping his body in a field.
Zuluaga stayed quiet in court and looked confused as a judge asked him questions.
"Mr. Zuluaga, you have some serious charges here. I'm asking you some questions. I'd appreciate your response," Miami-Dade County Judge Mindy Glazer said. "Do you have any money in the bank to pay for an attorney? I'll take his silence as a no and appoint the public defender."
Miami-Dade police said Zuluaga confessed to killing his 54-year-old uncle and dumping the body in a field not far from his family's home.
Nino was staying with Zuluaga while the rest of the family was on vacation. When the family returned home Sunday, Nino was missing, along with their pets and a rug. Those pets were later found buried in the backyard.
That's when family members went looking for Nino and found a body wrapped in a rug just six blocks away from the home.
The family wasn't home Tuesday morning, but a neighbor who lives across the street knew Nino.
"Me and my wife, we knew him for a while, and he was very candid and very nice," Raul Lorenzo told Local 10 News.
Although it wasn't mentioned in court, family members claim Zuluaga suffers from schizophrenia and has had issues with drugs.
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