First rule in the murderer's hand book: If you shoot someone, you better make sure they're dead. Especially if you're a close associate of the victim. Luckily for Fabio ''Estefano'' Salgado, a superstar producer and songwriter in the Latin pop world, his assailant didn't learn that lesson. After miraculously surviving an assault that left bullets in his head and torso, he fingered his former handyman Francisco Oliveira, Jr. as the shooter. Oliveira is currently on trial and denies pulling the trigger. Miami New Times investigated the case back in May and turned up a sticky web involving Estefano's business manager and a mysterious church of Santería.
Before dawn, the story goes, Miami police officers arrested Junior and charged him with attempted murder. But in the months that followed, lawmen would learn there was far more to the case. Millions of dollars, Estefano would claim, were siphoned from his accounts by a Svengali-like businessman named Jose Luis Gil. The songwriter also asserted Gil had plotted to kill him with the help of a mysterious Santería church based in a $900,000 Kendall estate — which Gil and the church vigorously deny.
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Estefano's lawyers believe Olivieira was hired by Gil and Andres Suarez, leader of the Santería temple, to kill Estefano to cover up the swindle. Oliviera's denial is sort of stunning, not only for the fact that Estefano has identified him as the shooter, but also because The New Times detailed his financial and personal connections to Gil and Suarez.
• Junior called the son of the Santería church leader, Andres Suarez Jr., a couple of hours after the shooting on May 25. They spoke for two minutes.
• After receiving money from Gil, the church paid Rubio $136,000 to defend Junior.
• Gil wired Junior's wife, Andrea Romer, $3,000 less than a month after Junior's arrest.
• For several years before the shooting, Gil had placed large amounts of Estefano's Sony contract money into Panama-based banks without the songwriter's knowledge; Junior was authorized to draw money from those accounts.
The closing arguments in the case ended today, and the jury is out. Frank Rubio the defense attorney argued that there is no physical evidence or a confession, but didn't explain why his cleint was paid by Suarez and Gil.