Detective testifies there was ‘apparent blood’ in car of businessman accused of Miami murder-for-hire plot

MIAMI – Two detectives, one retired and one with the Miami-Dade Police Department, testified on Tuesday in the trial of a businessman who stands accused of devising a gruesome murder-for-hire plot.

The lead detectives in the case accused Manuel Marin of being behind the 2011 murder of Camilo Salazar, 43, an interior designer from Coconut Grove who had an affair with his wife.

Detective Christopher Villano testified about the evidence of the case.

“We had learned that the vehicle was found by family and friends,” Villano said about Salazar’s car and how it turned up outside of an office in Coconut Grove after he vanished.

The detectives accused a trio — Roberto Isaac, Alexis Vila Perdomo, and Ariel Gandulla — of abducting and torturing him before killing him and burning his body.

Thomas Romagni, a retired homicide detective, said he smelled the gasoline when he arrived at the crime scene off Okeechobee Road. He said Salazar’s genitals were burned.

“There was a determination that his throat was slit,” Romagni said.

Villano said the evidence shows that an hour after the murder Marin’s cell phone and Salazar’s cell phone pinged off a tower in Kendall.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies found Marin’s blue Mercedes-Benz abandoned near Commercial Boulevard and notified the Light House Point Police Department police officers where Marin lived, who then contacted the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“I could see at points she would get emotional,” Romagni said about talking to Marin’s wife after her lover and her husband had both vanished.

Villano said there was “apparent blood” in Marin’s car. Gandulla, also known as Ariel Sarria, said he saw Marin and his blue Mercedes-Benz on the day of the crime.

Attorney Jose M. Quiñon, a former Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County who is defending Marin, questioned the evidence and Gandulla’s motive for testifying after a plea agreement.

Marin, a former Presidente Supermarkets partner, surrendered to authorities in 2018 at a U.S. embassy in Spain to face charges for the June 1, 2011 murder.

Prosecutors charged Marin with second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder. After his arraignment on Nov. 20, 2018, his trial was set for July 9, 2019, but there were delays over the years, and some were related to the pandemic.

In 2019, a jury found Isaac guilty of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder, and Vila Perdomo guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder. A judge sentenced Isaac to life in prison and Vila Perdomo to 15 years in prison.

As part of a plea agreement, a judge sentenced Gandulla to 36 months in prison, which he served. The Florida Department of Corrections released him on April 11, 2022.

Marin turned 69 in January while in the custody of Miami corrections. Records show he is being held at the Metrowest Detention Center. If the jury convicts him, Marin could face a maximum sentence of life in prison. The trial is scheduled to continue on Wednesday morning. archives

Coverage of the trial

Jenny Marin testifies on March 22 during the Miami-Dade trial of her ex-husband Manuel Marin, who detectives accused of hiring men to kill her lover Camilo Salazar.

Coverage of the case

Camilo Salazar is the alleged victim in a murder-for-plot with supermarket mogul Manuel Marin behind it all, after Marin learned Salazar was having an affair with his wife.

About the Authors:

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.