“This is your day of reckoning.”
Those were the words of Judge James Colaw as he sentenced Pedro Bravo for the first-degree murder of Christian Aguilar, of which he was found guilty.
“While Christian Aguilar may have been beyond the protection of the law on Sept. 20, 2012, you are not beyond its justice,” Colaw said.
Bravo was immediately sentenced to natural life in prison without a chance for parole. He was given an order to not contact Erika Friman or any member of the Aguilar family ever again.
Carlos Aguilar, Christian’s father, said Bravo had attempted to contact the family on Facebook before.
“He is a threat to us,” Aguilar said.
Colaw gave Bravo an additional 46 years for the other charges, which include false imprisonment, poisoning, two counts of lying to police and the improper transportation of human remains.
As Bravo’s mother sobbed and made the sign of the cross, Bravo took the stand to declare his innocence.
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says. I know in my heart what I did. I did not kill my friend,” he told the court.
The Aguilar family held a brief prayer circle as members of the family cried, laughed and held each other.
Carlos Aguilar begged the court to give Bravo the maximum possible sentence for destroying his family’s life. His wife, Claudia, was unable to speak clearly as she cried at the stand.
Bravo’s father was absent as his son was fingerprinted by deputies and led out of the room. Bravo remained emotionless, except for briefly closing his eyes when the verdict was announced.
In a press conference after the sentencing, the Aguilar family spoke briefly in Spanish and English about their thoughts.
“Today is when we start healing,” Alexander said. “You can only heal so much when you have somebody to blame and you don’t know what’s going to happen to them.”
Carlos said although he had been willing to forgive Bravo, he cannot do so until he admits his guilt. He urged the Bravo family to take God into their hearts, as He is the only thing that kept his family going those these two difficult years.
Alexander spoke about the verdict after the press conference.
"It's something you want, but once you get it… My brother still isn't here," he said.
Members of the community, including the state attorney’s office and Gainesville Police Department, made public statements expressing hope that the family will find closure.
Judge Colaw had stern words for Bravo immediately before sentencing him.
“You took everything from Christian Aguilar. You took his past, who he had been. You took his future, what he would have been. You took it all from him when you took his life.”
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.