Authorities: Aguilar was drugged and suffocated


This Oct. 12, 2012 file photo shows the entrance of Parker Boulevard off State Road 24 near Cedar Key, where the remains of missing UF student Christian Aguilar, inset below, were found at the Gulf Hammock Hunting Club. Pedro Bravo, inset at top, has been charged in the murder.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.

Murder suspect Pedro Bravo did not beat University of Florida student Christian Aguilar in September before leaving him to die in the Levy County woods, authorities now say. Rather, they believe Bravo drugged and suffocated the 18-year-old.

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This Oct. 12, 2012 file photo shows the entrance of Parker Boulevard off State Road 24 near Cedar Key, where the remains of missing UF student Christian Aguilar, inset below, were found at the Gulf Hammock Hunting Club. Pedro Bravo, inset at top, has been charged in the murder.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

State Attorney Bill Cervone on Thursday got a superceding indictment from a grand jury changing the original first-degree murder indictment and adding charges.

"We believe the evidence will show the administration of a chemical compound for the purpose of sedating (Aguilar) so he can do injury," Cervone said. "Once we found the body, it gave us some new information, so we made some changes in the indictment."

As new details emerged about the case Thursday, Cervone also said that he has yet to decide whether he will seek the death penalty if Bravo is convicted on the murder charge.

Aguilar and Bravo were schoolmates from Miami who came to Gainesville to attend college. Aguilar was last seen Sept. 20. Bravo, 19, initially told authorities he beat Aguilar and left him unconscious, but extensive searches failed to locate the body.

In the meantime, Bravo was arrested on a murder charge based on the beating admission and other factors.

Aguilar's body was found by hunters on Oct. 17 deep in the woods of Levy County near Cedar Key.

The original indictment alleged that Bravo beat Aguilar. On Thursday, the charge was modified to allege "by suffocating and poisoning (Aguilar) by some manner unknown."

The original kidnapping charge is unchanged. Another charge now alleges poisoning, which can include any chemical compound with an intent to kill or injure.

Bravo also has been indicted on charges of tampering with physical evidence by concealing duct tape, a shovel, personal belongings and by disposing of Aguilar's body. Authorities say Bravo bought a shovel and tape a few days before the disappearance.

The remaining charges are two counts of providing false information to law enforcement and one count of improper transportation of a dead body.

A source close to the case said residue of an over-the-counter drug was found in a container in Bravo's Chevrolet Blazer. Given a high enough amount, the drug would make the user incapable of fending off an attack, the source said.

Authorities also noted that Bravo's hands showed no indications that he had beaten anyone, such as bruising or swelling.

Chief Assistant Public Defender Al Chipperfield, who is representing Bravo, said when contacted Thursday afternoon that he was not aware of the changes to the indictment.

"We will defend regardless of the charges. We are waiting for discovery," Chipperfield said. "We will do our job, investigate the case and give him the best advice that we can."

Bravo has been in the Alachua County jail since his arrest on Sept. 24.

Aguilar was a UF freshman who planned to study biomedical engineering, and Bravo had been attending Santa Fe College.

The two had been students at the Doral Academy in Miami, and officials say that Aguilar was dating a former high school girlfriend of Bravo's, which may have been a factor in the case.

Hundreds of volunteers and police searched various areas of Gainesville and Alachua County for weeks for Aguilar's body after he was reported missing.

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