At Pedro Bravo trial, investigator shows jury items connected to Aguilar homicide

Gainesville Police Department Crime Scene Investigator Mark Trahan points to blood found on the bottom of a Rust-Oleum paint can that was found during a search of Pedro Bravo's Chevy Blazer.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.

Pedro Bravo pulled his SUV into a Wal-Mart parking lot, straddling two parking spots for a few seconds and then staying in another spot for nearly three hours, with no one ever getting out.

Video surveillance showed the movements on Sept. 20, 2012, the day authorities allege the Santa Fe College student killed Christian Aguilar in the blue Chevrolet Blazer at the Northwest 13th Street Wal-Mart.

Gainesville Police detective Martin Honeycutt testified Thursday afternoon in Bravo's murder trial that he tracked Bravo's movements on surveillance video aimed at the north end of the parking lot. The car enters the camera's range about 4 p.m.

"It does pull up into what appears to be a parking area … for 18 seconds. It moves a little further … and sits there for another six seconds. It then moves … and pulls head first into a parking space. That's its final stopping point," Honeycutt said. "I recorded that it left at 6:49."

Honeycutt testified that he neither saw any doors open nor anyone get out.

After two days of drama, Thursday's testimony turned technical as police described searches of Pedro Bravo's car and apartment bedroom that apparently yielded a trove of evidence regarding the disappearance of Christian Aguilar.

Police also mined surveillance video to track Bravo's movements in the days leading up to the disappearance of Aguilar, an 18-year-old University of Florida student who knew Bravo from when they attended the same school in South Florida.

Gainesville Police Officer Marc Trahan said one of his jobs was to photograph Bravo's blue Chevrolet Blazer specifically for potential weapons.

"I was processing the car for any weapons. Overnight, (the case) had gone from a missing person to the potential of a fight occurring," Trahan said. "There were a number of items that could be weapons."

One of his photos displayed on screens in the courtroom showed a belt, hammer, paint cans and other items on the backseat floor.

Bravo is accused of killing Aguilar out of jealousy and anger that Aguilar was dating Erika Friman, who had been Bravo's girlfriend for several years when they all attended Doral Academy high school in Miami.

It's alleged that Bravo sedated Aguilar with a concoction of drugs in a Gatorade bottle and then strangled him in the SUV in the Wal-Mart parking lot, a process that authorities said took 13 minutes.

Friman spent part of Tuesday and most of Wednesday on the stand detailing her relationships with the men and reading entries from Bravo's journals describing his desire to relight the romance with Friman and his depressed state over the breakup.

While Friman neared tears at times while holding evidence photos of Aguilar, Trahan was tasked with holding up shoe inserts and other items he collected as evidence to display to the jury.

Wearing latex gloves, Trahan held bag after bag of evidence ranging from a Febreze bottle and duct tape packaging in the SUV to a black Camelback sweatshirt with the words "What goes up must come down" that was taken from the clothes dryer in Bravo's Spyglass apartment.

Meanwhile, GPD Officer Marc Woodmansee told how his search turned up bottles of acetaminophen and ZzzQuil, which contains diphenhyromine. Residue of the drugs was found in a Gatorade bottle in Bravo's SUV.

Also found in the apartment were receipts for the Archer Road Wal-Mart and Lowe's, which prompted police to get surveillance video showing Bravo buying drugs, a shovel, a bottle of Gatorade and other items linked the death.

For weeks after Sept. 21, platoons of police and volunteers searched much of Gainesville and other parts of Alachua County for Aguilar with no luck.

On Oct. 12, hunters came upon Aguilar's remains partially buried in a forest off State Road 24 near Cedar Key in Levy County.

Various pictures taken by Trahan of a shovel found under a deck at the back of a unit near Bravo's apartment at Spyglass on Southwest 62nd Boulevard were displayed, with Trahan explaining where it was and the dirt and mud caked on it.

Bravo became a suspect on Sept. 21 when Friman reported Aguilar missing. She had spoken to Bravo, who told her he had fought with Aguilar and left him at a location somewhere in the vicinity of U.S. 441 near the YMCA on Northwest 34th Street.

At Friman's request, Bravo met her at the police station on Sept. 21 and told police about the fight, leading to searches of his car and apartment.

Bravo gave varying accounts to police. He was arrested on a murder charge Sept. 28 before Aguilar's body was found.

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