Man convicted of SoBe murder/rape to learn fate
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Jurors are trying to decide if they will recommend life in prison or the death penalty for the man who kidnapped, raped and killed an 18-year-old girl.
The sentencing trial of Joel Lebron, the man accused of a horrific crime 10 years ago, continues Friday after being postponed Thursday when a juror needed time away for a family emergency.
Lebron was found guilty of murder, rape, kidnapping and attempted murder last week. According to prosecutors, Lebron was the trigger man in one of South Florida's most horrific crimes, back in 2002.
Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend, Nelson Portobanco, were on a date on South Beach when they were kidnapped at gunpoint by five men.
Portobanco was stabbed and left for dead but survived. Angel was raped and then shot in the head. Prosecutors said Lebron pulled the trigger.
During this sentencing phase, Lebron's attorneys told jurors that he suffered a troubled childhood. A social worker took the stand and explained his behavior. "Most of the younger kids engage 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 an age that she lost control of the children," said Jose Lopez.
On Friday, prosecutor Reid Rubin read Angel's last words before Lebron murdered her. "'Please, don't kill me. Please, don't kill me. Please, don't kill me. Por favor, please, don't kill me,' That's what she said to him, that man sitting right there, who introduced himself as the devil to them when he abducted them and kidnapped them and robbed them and raped her and raped her and raped her. That's the man who sits here awaiting your judgement."
No matter what the jury decides, it is mandatory Lebron will have to spend the rest of his life in prison. They can decide, however, to sentence him to death instead. If the conviction is any indication at all-- it only took the jury an hour and 10 minutes to decide he was guilty-- their decision should come sooner than later.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)