Jury to decide man's fate in SoBe rape, murder case
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A jury will soon decide the fate of a man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a woman on South Beach 10 years ago.
Thursday marked the second day of the sentencing phase for Joel Lebron, who was convicted last week for a horrific crime. Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend, Nelson Portobanco, were on a date in 2002, strolling the beach after celebrating an anniversary with dinner. They were kidnapped and robbed by Lebron and four other men.
Portobanco was stabbed multiple times and was left for dead. Angel was raped by all five men. She was then shot in the back of the head. Portobanco survived the horrific attack.
The defense plans to call five witnesses to comment on Lebron's troubled childhood, in hopes of leniency. Jose Lopez, a social worker from Puerto Rico, knew Lebron as a child. "The mother was the subject of domestic violence," he said. "The father was an alcoholic. Most of the younger kids engaged in some sort of deviant behavior, and the mother, although she tried hard and was very dedicated to her children, there was a time when they reached some age that she lost control of the children."
On Wednesday, prosecutors addressed the jury with a new testimony from Lebron, something they weren't able to tell the jury before.
According to prosecutors, Lebron confessed to the murder of Angel. After the confession, detectives asked him how he felt after he killed her. "He asked the defendant, 'How did you feel when you killed the girl?' And do you know what he said? He said, 'I felt like a king,'" voice of Prosecutor Reid Rubin.
Lebron was found guilty on all seven counts in the rape and murder of Angel last week. Prosecutors are asking the same jury that convicted him to sentence him with the death penalty.
Lebron's defense asked the jury to consider his past. They called a psychologist to testify that drugs and alcohol were a major issue in his past.
Angel's mother appeared in court and said her daughter was just days away from signing with the Air Force. She said, after her daughter was killed, her life lost meaning. "It was a destruction of a life," she said through a translator.
Lebron's sister was unable to look at her brother as she exited the courtroom.
The jury is expected to decide Lebron's fate and present it to the judge before the end of the day Thursday. He faces either life in prison or the death penalty.
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