The Dead Among Us

One week of living and dying in Miami-Dade.

In the 1980s, Weinstein moved to Key West, where he produced a weekly show on public access television called Eye on the Keys. He used the show as a bully pulpit to take on the tourism industry. A decade later, the controversial rabble-rouser moved to Miami Beach, where he became a fixture in the city's civic affairs. As a political columnist for the local weekly SunPost, Weinstein fashioned himself as a muckraker exposing the misdeeds of city government. To his enemies, Weinstein used his column to further the agenda of his pals, such as Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer, who gave the ex-TV producer a plum gig as his chief of staff. It was a job Weinstein somehow held on to even when Matti Bower was elected mayor last year. "His death is a big loss," Bower says. "A.C. is irreplaceable. That said, a lot of people feared and loathed him because of his political influence."

On February 26, Weinstein's friends gave him a farewell toast before his memorial service. At 12:15 p.m., they gathered in the parking lot of the Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapel at 1920 Alton Rd. and downed shots of tequila.

Cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease

6:45 p.m., Sweetwater

Juan Ayala arrived in Miami from Cuba seven years ago. The 76-year-old retired mechanic lived with his sister in a single-story beige house at 11251 SW Seventh Ter. Ayala had five children with his ex-wife, smoked cigarettes, and drank alcohol. He suffered from chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and an irregular heartbeat. Ayala was preparing to leave with his sister for a class when family members found him unconscious on the floor. He was dead by the time paramedics showed up.

Cause of death: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

9 p.m., Liberty City

Roosevelt Ivory Jr. was found gunned down just a few blocks from his father's boarding home for ex-cons at 1736 NW 69th Ter. The two-house compound sits in a notoriously violent neighborhood of Miami where earlier this year an unknown assailant armed with an AK-47 opened fire on a group of young black men playing dice and killed two.

Junior's luck ran out too. Miami-Dade Police won't comment about the murder, but Roosevelt Ivory Sr. says the shooting took place on NE 63rd Street at 18th Avenue. "I got a phone call from somebody on the street, saying, 'Your son just got shot,'" Ivory remembers. "My first thought was, Well, OK, they said shot, not killed. He's going to be OK. But I was extremely shocked. My men had to help me get out of the house, because I was running around in circles trying to find my keys."

Ivory has heard on the streets that his son's killers mistook him for someone else. "It's funny, because we were just having a discussion a couple of days before about how crazy these streets are," he says, recalling a conversation he had with Junior. Even though police informed Ivory they have surveillance videos with clear pictures of the shooters, the six-foot-four former boxing promoter is not brimming with confidence that his son's homicide will be solved. "People in the street are too afraid to come forward," he says. "I'm going to leave it to [the police]. I'm going to hope they handle this."

Ivory Sr. once owned Miami Beach boxing haven 5th Street Gym, the onetime training home to Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, and Mike Tyson. Says Ivory: "Junior worked right along with me." Five years ago, 5th Street closed for good, and his son joined him in the other family business: construction. But while Ivory insists his son had no enemies and "was never involved in anything serious enough to get him murdered," a glance at their rap sheets reveals another father/son similarity: Both were prolific at being charged with, and acquitted of, wheelbarrows full of felonies.

From 1974 through 2002, the elder Ivory was charged with carrying a sawed-off weapon, cocaine possession, felony marijuana possession, battery, and assault. He has somehow avoided a felony conviction every time. His slain son's rap sheet is even longer: two charges of cocaine possession, two illegal weapons charges, aggravated assault, armed robbery, marijuana dealing, and attempted first-degree murder. That's eight felonies, and he was convicted of only one: a 2001 cocaine possession charge, for which he was sentenced to one day in jail.

Cause of death: gunshot wound to the head

— Reporting by Gus Garcia Roberts

FEBRUARY 24

9:15 a.m., South Miami

Maria Arias and her boyfriend pounded on the front door of the white three-bedroom corner house at 6941 SW 63rd Ave. She was concerned about her son, Robert Michael Arias, who had not answered phone calls from friends or family for days. Maria's boyfriend forced open the front door and entered. He found Robert's dead body in the bathroom. The shower was running and a blood-soaked shirt lay nearby. According to Miami-Dade Police, the self-employed carpenter had been stabbed to death hours, maybe even days, earlier.

According to neighbor Hugo Hernandez, Robert Arias practically grew up in the white three-bedroom house, a property his grandfather, Domingo Echemendia, purchased for $28,200 in 1973. The home is located in a Norman Rockwell-esque neighborhood where a lush tree canopy shields the sidewalks from the brutal Miami sun, and the rustic residences feature expansive front lawns with white picket fences. Hernandez, who owns a two-bedroom house next door, says Arias was a nice young man: "We said hi to each other every day."

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