'I am a monster' for hurting Aguilar, Bravo journal says

Erika Friman, the girlfriend of victim Christian Aguilar, looks up during a break in her testimony during the murder trial of Pedro Bravo in Courtroom 1B of the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center Wednesday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

Pedro Bravo didn't speak in court Wednesday but words from his journals displayed on a screen and read by his former girlfriend show he was an emotionally fragile young man who apologized for hurting Christian Aguilar, the man he is accused of murdering.

Dominating Wednesday's testimony was Erika Friman, the former girlfriend of Bravo whom he still pined for even though she was dating Aguilar at the time Aguilar was killed on Sept. 20, 2012.

“The gist of what put me here is that they found him,” Friman read from a journal by Bravo in which he describes Duct tape on Aguilar's hands and neck along with other details.

In another journal entry read by Friman, Bravo wrote, “I am a monster for having hurt Christian the way I did. … No apology will be enough to make up for what I have done.”

Friman's testimony lasted most of the day. She explained her relationships with Bravo and Aguilar since their days as classmates in Miami's Doral Academy high school and in Gainesville as Aguilar began attending the University of Florida and Friman and Bravo went to Santa Fe College.

Bravo moved to Gainesville unexpectedly partially in an attempt to woo Friman back, according to his journals.

Aguilar met with Bravo on Sept. 20, 2012, to try to help his friend cope with depression. Instead, he was never seen again, Friman testified Wednesday.

“He was thinking of it as a friend — maybe there is something I could tell him that would help him get through it,” Friman said of Aguilar. “Christian wouldn't fight. He was not much of a fighter and would walk away.”

Bravo, 20, is facing murder and kidnapping charges and five other charges in the death of Aguilar, 18, whose body was found by hunters on Oct. 12 in Levy County.

Prosecutors allege Bravo strangled Aguilar out of jealousy and anger that Aguilar was then dating Friman.

Bravo's attorney, Michael Ruppert, contends the two men did fight on Sept. 20 but that Bravo did not kill Aguilar.

Friman, who exchanged blown kisses with Aguilar's mother, Claudia, in the courtroom, testified how both she and Aguilar wanted to help Bravo.

“I was trying to calm him down. … I cared about anyone who was suicidal. I was concerned since he was suicidal. I thought talking to him would help him. Please God, don't do anything crazy. Please let me talk to you,” she said recalling a conversation she had during a meeting with Bravo in early September.

“He asks me if me and Christian were dating. I told him we were not, so I lied to him. I lied because it was a very sensitive time in his life,” Friman said, adding that she stressed to him at a later meeting that “I didn't see a future with him. I hope I made myself as clear as possible that I didn't see a future with him.”

Friman testified she knew that Aguilar and Bravo were meeting on Sept. 20 and became concerned when Aguilar did not meet her later that afternoon. She began trying to get hold of him by text message and phone calls without success.

Under questioning from Assistant State Attorney Brian Kramer, Friman said she called Bravo the next day.

“He said they (Bravo and Aguilar) got into a verbal argument and that Christian asked to get out of the car,” Friman said. “I thought that was strange because my sister has a car and he would have called her to pick him up.”

Friman then went to police and asked Bravo to meet her at the station. He did, and that became his first contact with police regarding the case.

Friman remained largely composed through her testimony but started softly crying when she identified belongings of Aguilar, including photographs, that were in an evidence bag. A recess was called.

Much of her afternoon testimony was reading journal entries from Bravo dating from the summer of 2012 until after his arrest. Bravo's writings indicate a troubled man.

“Sad music can be beautiful when you feel down, and so far my favorite is Sparks by Coldplay,” he wrote.

Another entry said: “I want to be happy and I want to be loved.”

“How do I feel? I feel as if someone stabbed me and I bleeded out an died,” said another.

And this: “I am flawed but now those flaws will come to an end. Hopefully I will be happy.”

Bravo's parents showed no emotion in the courtroom when the journal entries were read and displayed.

Ruppert, the defense attorney, chose not to cross-examine Friman.

Also testifying Wednesday was a Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst who said a bottle submitted by police contained acetaminophen, diphenhydramine and other substances. It is alleged that Bravo gave the drugs to Aguilar in a drink.

A private consultant who analyzed Bravo's computer found searches regarding the use of drugs, murder and other topics.

Meanwhile, University Police Department crime scene investigator Ken Beerbower described some of the items he found in Bravo's blue Chevrolet Blazer, including the Gatorade bottle that was tested by the FDLE.

And Gainesville Police officer Ahipo Doualehi described what he found in Bravo's apartment. Among the items was Bravo's backpack, which contained Aguilar's backpack.

The trial resumes today and is expected to continue through next week.

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