· Congratulations to DCs Natalie Snyder and Khalil Madani on securing a guilty verdict against former police officer Braulio Gonzalez on one count of Armed Kidnapping and eight counts of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation on a Child under 12 years of age. The jury deliberated for approximately 15 minutes before returning the verdict.
At the time of his arrest in 2018, the Defendant was a lieutenant at the Miami Dade Police Department. The victims were part of his biological family.
In 2018, one of the victims was suffering from severe depression and displaying many symptoms often associated with abuse. Her parents took her to therapy where she disclosed that the Defendant molested her when she was between the ages of 8-10. After the Defendant’s arrest for molesting the younger victim, both girls started therapy at Kristi House. Through therapy, the older Victim also disclosed she had been molested by the Defendant. Charges were filed against him for molesting both victims.
The Defendant had a long history of domestic violence and Internal Affairs complaints against him, including some from multiple other police officers. All the complaints were cleared after investigations by his department. Many people involved in our case were deathly afraid of the Defendant and MDPD went above and beyond to protect the victims and their mother from potential retaliation by the Defendant.
A conviction would not have been possible without the solid investigation by Special Victims Bureau Detectives Jacqueline Caso, Robert Santana, and Desiree Serrano. After the arrest, all three continued to be emotionally supportive of the victims and were vital to ensuring key witnesses appeared to testify. Trial Coordinator Valerie Ford’s dedication to the case is also commended. She worked extra hours to make sure the victims and witnesses appeared when they needed to, and she was an emotional rock for them during the trial itself.
But in the end, this victory would not have been possible without the victims. This Defendant had defeated numerous allegations of violence in the past. The strength of the two young victims in coming forward and testifying in court ensured that the justice was served.
The Defendant faces 47 years at the bottom of his guidelines with several Minimum Mandatory sentences. Sentencing is set for April.
· Congratulations to ASAs Sara Merrill and Cristina Palmer for obtaining a guilty verdict on the charge of Armed Robbery with a Firearm.
The Victim in this case stopped to speak to a woman on the street late at night who told him to meet her around the corner. When the Victim drove to the corner, he was surprised by two unknown men. The Defendant opened the Victim’s passenger side door, pointed a firearm with an extended magazine at him, and demanded all his belongings, including his wallet, phone, and the clothes he was wearing. The naked Victim drove away and was able to locate a police officer. The Defendant fled on foot and had evaded capture when the Victim returned to the scene with the officer.
Months later, a detective was investigating this Defendant on separate narcotics cases and saw a “Need to Identify Flyer.” He immediately alerted the Lead Detective in the Armed Robbery case, which led to the creation of a lineup and the positive identification of the Defendant by the Victim.
Though there was CCTV footage of the event before and after the robbery, there was no video of the robbery itself. ASAs Merrill and Palmer used demonstratives and the CCTV videos to logically piece the series of events together. After two hours, the jury agreed the charge was proven and returned a verdict of guilty as charged.
A special thanks to the Litigation Support Unit for their work with the demonstrative evidence and blow-ups of images.
· Congratulations to Division Chief Jonathan Borst and ASA Wally Hernandez on receiving a guilty verdict in a Shooting a Deadly Missile and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon case.
The Defendant was charged with the shooting death of our Victim in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami. The Defendant spotted the Victim’s vehicle at the corner store, went back to his home to retrieve a firearm, and returned to wait for the vehicle to pass by. The Defendant brought his 3-year-old son to the shooting. As the vehicle slowed near him, the Defendant began shooting at the driver of the vehicle through the passenger side window. A passenger in the back seat began to return fire through the closed rear window. The shooting was captured on video by the surveillance cameras at a nearby store. The Defendant fled the scene and was apprehended several days later after an arrest warrant was issued.
The two surviving witnesses were unfortunately uncooperative and hostile, so the entire case was based on the video evidence and the defendant’s false and self-serving statement provided to detectives.
After the State rested, the mother of the Defendant’s children testified that the Victim had a reputation for violence and had killed an individual who was a close friend of the Defendant several months before this shooting. The defense claimed that this belief heightened the Defendant’s fear of the vehicle. The State argued that this provided a motive for the killing itself and that the shooting was retaliation for his friend’s alleged murder. It is confirmed that the Victim was a person of interest in the death investigation of the Defendant’s friend.
The Defendant testified that the video of the shooting was “lying,” and that the Victims shot at him first. He also claimed that he didn’t know who was in the vehicle, but that the Victims were pointing and looking at him prior to the shooting, and he reasonably believed his child was about to be the victim of a drive-by shooting. The Defendant attempted to plead the fifth on cross examination when asked about the firearm, but ultimately admitted to buying the gun off the streets prior to the date of the homicide.
Jurors acquitted the Defendant of the murder and child abuse charges but found him guilty of Shooting a Deadly Missile and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. This was believed to be a compromise verdict, possibly since there were no witnesses from the vehicle who could explain why they were driving by the Defendant. Ultimately the jurors at least found the Defendant responsible for the shooting into a vehicle, and he is now facing up to 45 years in state prison as the. Defendant is a habitual offender.
A special thanks to Trial Coordinator Mary Clifford and Unit Supervisor Elizabeth Frade for the assistance they provided.
· Congratulations to Child Support Program ASA Carmen Callison for obtaining a ruling of a $2,400.00 purge during a hearing on a Motion for Contempt. Child Support was previously ordered in the amount of $763.10 per month ($9,157.20 per year) for the support of three children.
In the year 2018, the father only paid a total of $300.00 in child support for the entire year. Since that time, the father continued to average a mere $300.00 in total child support payments per year. The mother testified that the father has owned his own company since 2018.
ASA Callison proved by preponderance of the evidence that the father had the ability to pay his child support from income he was earning under the table and willfully violated the Court’s Order by not paying.