OCTOBER 5,2012 http://www.local10.com
The jury began deliberating whether they will recommend the death penalty for Joel Lebron, who was convicted last week in the 2002 kidnap, rape, and murder of Ana Maria Angel.
Last week, the same jury found Lebron guilty of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, sexual battery and sexual battery with a firearm.
Closing arguments started earlier in the day.
“There’s nothing wrong with this man. This man knew what he was doing,” said prosecutor Reid Rubin. “He knew how he was doing it. He enjoyed it. He enjoyed it so much he had an orgasm.”
State law outlines aggravators that make the death penalty apply and prosecutors are focusing on six of them.
“There is what’s called ‘heinous, atrocious and cruel.’ He did it because he thought she could identify him,” said Rubin.
Since Wednesday, the defense has been presenting mitigating factors to the jury, hoping jurors will consider any effects on Lebron from a childhood in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood, and a childhood car crash.
“Nothing that the state attorney just told you compels you in any way, shape, or form to recommend the death penalty,” said Rafael Rodriguez, Lebron’s attorney. “By your verdict, you have guaranteed that Joel Lebron will stay in prison for the rest of his life.”
The jury’s recommendation doesn’t have to be unanimous. Jurors began deliberating about noon.
According to investigators, Angel was 18-years-old in the spring of 2002 when she was out celebrating an anniversary with Nelson Portobanco, her boyfriend at the time, on South Beach when five people kidnapped them and forced them into their truck at gunpoint.
As they rode north to Orlando where the defendants came from, Angel was repeatedly raped and Nelson was beaten, said prosecutors. Police said Portobanco was eventually thrown out of the truck along I-95 and left for dead.
The five are accused of killing Angel execution-style at the side of I-95 near Boca Raton to keep her from identifying them. Police said Lebron, now 33, was the gunman.
Prior to Lebron’s conviction, three of the five defendants had already been convicted. Two were sentenced to life in prison; one is awaiting a second sentencing hearing because his death penalty sentence was overturned.