Coral Gables High Murder Trial: Victim Might Have Choked Defendant During Fight

In an often emotional trial, Andy Rodriguez stands accused of fatally stabbing classmate Juan Carlos Rivera with a box cutter in the halls of Coral Gables Senior High School in 2009. Rodriguez's defense team is trying to paint his actions as merely in self-defense.

Days after jurors viewed surveillance footage of portions of the deadly hallway fight, an autopsy doctor testified it's possible Rivera choked Rodriguez during the fight, adding weight to the self-defense claim.

Dr. John Marraccini, an autopsy expert, told jurors that marks on Rodriguez's neck found after the incident are consistent with signs of choking.

"What you see is consistent with Mr. Rodriguez being placed in an arm-bar chokehold," Marraccini said, according to NBC Miami. "That's why the defendant perceived himself as being choked."

The defense team claims Rodriguez, then 17, had no choice but to stab Rivera in self-defense.

Other witnesses claim Rodriguez stabbed Rivera through the back while he was standing, but Marraccini says the stabbing most likely occurred while Rivera was on the ground. However, even Rodriguez told police that he reached around Rivera's back while he was standing to stab him.

Prosecutors claimed that in the video footage shown to jurors yesterday, a spot of blood can clearly be seen on Rivera's back while he is standing.

Rivera continued to swing at Rodriguez despite being stabbed, but he eventually collapsed. Rodriguez then ran away.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Police Det. Juan Segovia testified earlier this week that Rodriguez seemed too calm during questioning despite having just fatally stabbed a classmate.

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Kyle Munzenrieder