GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A 20-year-old man on trial on murder charges took the stand in his own defense Thursday. The surprising move by Pedro Bravo left little to the imagination for a curious jury, who has spent nearly two weeks listening to a stream of evidence and testimony in the case.
Bravo, wearing a business suit, began the day of statements by explaining the nature of his friendship with Christian Aguilar.
"He was a good friend," said Bravo.
The two had known each other since middle school in Miami-Dade County and wound up in Gainesville at the same time for college. However, Bravo's intent was to reconnect with an ex-girlfriend who was dating Christian, WPLG-TV reported.
"Erika (Friman) went to Gainesville and I still loved her. I was very enamored with her and I wanted to get back with her," Bravo said.
Prosecutors believe Bravo felt betrayed and used that as a plot for murder. Aguilar, a University of Florida freshman, was last seen alive with Bravo on the day he disappeared.
The two boys fought and Bravo initially kept that story from detectives.
"Tempers are flaring and he's still got the nosebleed and he has a little bit of blood on the shirt and I strike him with an open palm on the face and I strike him again on the other side of he face and I slip and hit him with an elbow," explained Bravo.
Bravo claimed he dropped Aguilar off alive but injured on the side of the road.
Aguilar's body was found weeks later partially buried in a field. Bravo was arrested shortly after the disappearance on suspicion of murder.
Investigators later found traces of Aguilar's blood in Bravo's SUV and soil samples on his truck which matched dirt on a shovel recovered near his apartment -- both of which were identical to dirt in the field where Aguilar's body was found.
Surveillance video from a Walmart shows Bravo purchasing a poisonous concoction of over-the-counter drugs and a shovel on the day Aguilar was reported missing. But Bravo told the jury that those items were for himself.
"In a way, I was going to go find a spot and I was going to mark my tomb and I was going to dig it," said Bravo, who claims he was contemplating suicide at the time. "The bottle had acetaminophen, Z-Quil and a little bit of pesticide as well."
"And you bought all those things?" asked Bravo's defense attorney, Michael Ruppert.
"Yes," replied Bravo, "to kill myself."
The court heard from a jailhouse snitch the day before who claimed Bravo confessed to him details about the murder while the two shared a cell in late 2012.
However, Bravo claims he was threatened by Michael Angelo -- a nine-time convicted felon and former gang member and was forced to write down things that were not true.
Prosecutors wasted no time pouncing on holes in Bravo's story.
"Now you're on your way to kill yourself but you got to get gas first, yes?" asked prosecutor Brian Kramer.
"Right," replied Bravo.
"Because you can't kill yourself without a full tank of gas correct?" Kramer said.
"Correct," said Bravo.
Closing arguments are expected to start Friday and the jury will begin deliberating Bravo's fate shortly after. Bravo is charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted.
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