Mother Wants Judge Off Dead Daughter's Murder Trial

Published On: Sep 12 2012 01:17:05 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2006 12:50:31 PM EDT
MIAMI -

The mother of a girl who was killed after she was snatched from South Beach and raped wants the judge assigned to her daughter's murder trial thrown off the case for what she said is a failure of the system.

Margarita Osorio hand-delivered a petition to the office of Miami-Dade County's chief judge Wednesday containing more than 11,000 signatures asking for Judge William Thomas' removal from the bench.

The action came one day after Osorio and her supporters held a protest outside the county courthouse, waving signs that read, "Judge Thomas, don't protect criminals" and "Justice for Ana Maria."

Osorio has mostly stayed out of the public eye and rarely left her home since her 18-year-old daughter, Ana Maria Angel, was kidnapped and killed four years ago.

Police arrested four men and a teenager who they said killed Angel and beat and stabbed her boyfriend, 18-year-old Nelson "Eddy" Portobanco. He was dumped on Interstate 95 in Pompano Beach. He survived having his throat slashed and 15 stab wounds.

Angel's body was found lying near the interstate in south Palm Beach County.

If convicted, Joel Lebron, Cesar Mena, Hector Caraballo and Victor Caraballo all face the death penalty in Angel's death. Jesus Roman faces life in prison if convicted because he was 16 at the time of the killing.

Earlier this year, Thomas threw out the confessions of accused triggermen Lebron and Roman because the teens were not properly read their Miranda rights when interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the judge said.

Osorio told Local 10 that she is confident that Portobanco's testimony will be enough to convict the five defendants. But she fears that even if convicted, suppressing the confessions might help the suspected killers get out sooner.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said prosecutors have appealed Thomas' ruling, but it could take three or four months before they get a decision from the appellate court.

The trial is set to begin Oct. 30, but Florida law prohibits a chief judge from interfering in a pending case, so the petition will be sent to the lead attorney to be reviewed.

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