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State's key witness in Presidente co-founder's murder-for-hire trial takes stand

Ariel Gandulla gives jurors firsthand look into day Camilo Salazar was killed

MIAMI – The Miami murder-for-hire trial involving Presidente supermarket co-founder Manual Marin kicked off its second week with a bombshell Tuesday morning.

Ariel Gandulla, Alexis Vila Perdomo and Roberto Isaac were allegedly hired by Marin to kidnap and kill his wife's lover, Camilo Salazar, after Marin discovered his then-wife, Jenny Marin, and Salazar had been in an intimate relationship in 2011.

Salazar's body was eventually found in June 2011, after it had been dumped in the Everglades. The body was badly burned, Salazar's throat was slit and his groin area had apparently been set aflame.

Last week, jurors heard from retired Miami-Dade homicide detectives who told the courtroom that cellphone records indicated that Isaac had been at the scene where Salazar's body was found. Investigators also found Gandulla's fingerprint on Salazar's vehicle.

State prosecutors were able to track down Gandulla, who was living freely in Canada, and convince him to testify against his alleged accomplices, Isaac and Vila Perdomo.

In exchange, Gandulla would face kidnapping charges only, and the state would drop the murder charges against him.

On Tuesday morning, the courtroom heard Gandulla's firsthand account of the kidnapping and the day before Salazar's body was found. .

On the morning of June 1, 2011 Isaac allegedly picked up Gandulla and the two were supposed to go cash a check, Gandulla told those in the courtroom, through a translator.  

Instead, Isaac allegedly drove to Salazar's location, tied him up and placed him in the vehicle. 

Gandulla testified that he became afraid shortly after, telling those in the courtroom that "the way things started happening and the way Camilo was taken" began to make him afraid.

Once Salazar was in the vehicle, Isaac drove to meet Marin, Gandulla said. He said he left as Isaac and Marin drove off with Salazar.

When the defense asked Gandulla why he had agreed to a guilty plea of kidnapping after testifying he had not had a hand in it, Gandulla told the courtroom it was because he didn't do anything to stop the kidnapping.