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Best Criminal Conviction Miami 2013 - Joel Lebron

In Dante's Inferno, murderers are submerged in a scarlet river of boiling blood and fire. It seemed appropriate, therefore, that Joel Lebron appear in a Miami-Dade County courthouse dressed in a prison-issued jumper of virtually the same hue. All January long, a jury heard the heart-wrenching details of how Lebron and four accomplices kidnapped a teenaged couple as they strolled along the South Beach sand during spring 2002. Lebron was the ringleader, prosecutors showed, who ordered Nelson Portobanco's throat slit. The gang dumped his body alongside I-95 and then gang-raped his girlfriend, Ana Maria Angel, in the back of a truck. Finally, Lebron dragged Angel into a ditch and, as she prayed for mercy, buried a bullet in the back of her skull. Miami's most cold-blooded killer might have never been convicted if Portobanco hadn't miraculously survived to testify. Judge William Thomas wept as he sentenced Lebron to death for his crimes, but the 33-year-old killer just glared coldly around the courtroom. The conviction was a decade overdue, but it was justice: You kill an angel, you deserve to burn in Hell.

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