As Bill Ezzell of the prosecution put it, Pedro Bravo’s presumed innocence ends today.
Bravo was found guilty of the first-degree murder of his friend, former UF student Christian Aguilar.
He was found guilty of his other charges: false imprisonment, poisoning, tampering with evidence, lying to police and the improper transportation of a dead body.
Aguilar’s family — his mother, Claudia, father, Carlos and brother, Alexander — was joined by a large group of extended family and friends.
Bravo remained stoic. His parents bowed their heads and held hands.
Over the two week trial, the state presented 26 witnesses and a total of 1,010 pieces of evidence. The defense had one witness — Bravo.
After just under four hours of deliberation, the jury chose the highest offense proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury chose between lesser included crimes, which Ezzell compared to Russian nesting dolls.
“These are smaller crimes that fit inside bigger crimes,” he told the jury.
During a recess in the state’s closing statement, the defense called for a mistrial because Ezzell mentioned that a tweet quoting Brian Kramer, also from the state, went viral on Twitter.
Kramer’s quotable moment was that “bringing a smart phone to a murder is not smart.”
Judge James Colaw denied the motion, but agreed to remind the jury that nothing heard in the closing statements counts as evidence.
The closing remarks of the defense relied heavily on blaming police for an inept investigation, especially concerning searching the parking lot of Streit’s Motorsports, where Bravo said he fought Aguilar and left him for dead.
“There was zero effort looking for a sign of a struggle, absolutely zero. For these officers to get up here and say they made a genuine effort is wrong,” said Michael Ruppert, of the defense.
The state had evidence showing Bravo’s exact purchases, internet searches and locations from the weeks around the murder.
The defense agreed with every point except the final cell phone location data, which the state said showed Bravo heading west on Archer, toward Levy County.
The defense said Bravo was actually heading northeast to attempt to commit suicide.
Ruppert drew comparisons between this trial and the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” in which the main character, Andy Dufresne, is jailed for life for a murder he didn’t commit using circumstantial evidence.
“At least there, they looked for the gun. Here, they didn’t look for the blood,” Ruppert said.
The rebuttal by the state, from Ezzell, was sharp.
“Andy Dufresne contemplated suicide. He contemplated homicide. He chose to throw his weapon in a pond never to be found.
Pedro Bravo considered suicide. Pedro Bravo committed homicide. Pedro Bravo threw his weapon into a pond, never to be found.
Andy Dufresne was innocent. Pedro Bravo is not. That’s where the movie similarity ends.”
Alex Harris is the online editor of the Alligator and a 22-year-old journalism and sustainability studies senior. She likes cooking, spending time in the sun and making convincing cat noises.