Ex-girlfriend testifies in Pedro Bravo murder trial
Erika Friman says she lied about relationship with Christian Aguilar
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The ex-girlfriend of a South Florida man accused of killing his best friend while was away at college was back on the stand Wednesday inside a Gainesville courtroom for a second consecutive day.
Miami native Erika Friman was dating Christian Aguilar in September 2012 when he disappeared. The 19-year-old's body was found 22 days later, partially buried in a remote field.
Friman's ex-boyfriend, Pedro Bravo, is accused of poisoning and strangling the University of Florida student before dumping his body.
"I called Christian first and he did not answer," Friman said as she testified about the first time she realized something was wrong. "It went straight to voice mail. Then I called Pedro and it started ringing and he answered."
Friman said she eventually called police and Aguilar's parents to inform them their son was missing.
In court, the 20-year old woman described a meeting that Bravo had arranged to meet with Aguilar.
"Christian was going to give him some advice on how to deal with depression," she testified. "They had decided to meet the day after that phone call, which I think that phone call was on a Tuesday. I don't know what day, but it was the week he went missing."
In the days and weeks leading to Aguilar's disappearance, Friman said she received multiple phone calls, text messages and Facebook postings from Bravo, who was expressing a strong desire to get back together.
"I lied to him because he was at a very sensitive point in his life, I suppose," Friman testified. "I didn't want to throw him over the edge or anything (by telling him), 'By the way, I'm dating a mutual friend of ours.'"
The trio attended high school together at Doral Academy. Friman and Aguilar moved to Gainesville, where Aguilar was pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering. Bravo moved to the same city without much notice, even though his initial plans were to attend Florida International University.
Prosecutors believe Bravo used threats of suicide as a ploy to get his ex-girlfriend's attention, who otherwise rejected all of his advances. Fear of carrying out the threat is what prompted Friman to give in for several meetings with Bravo, hoping she could change his mind.
"At this point, did you still care about Pedro," asked Alachua County prosecutor Brian Kramer.
"I did, but I cared about anyone who claimed they were suicidal," Friman testified. "I would've probably done the same thing for an acquaintance. I had a little more history with Pedro, so I guess I was a little more rushed."
Aguilar's book bag was found in Bravo's closet after his arrest. Authorities had been on his trail because Aguilar was last seen alive with Bravo. Surveillance cameras showed the two shopping together and captured Bravo buying a shovel, over-the-counter drugs and duct tape -- all elements detectives said they found at the site where Aguilar's remains were discovered.
Friman also read aloud a suicide note written by Bravo.
"When I fell for her, I fell hard," Friman read. "Now I can't pick myself up. I feel weak."
The note was found just days after Aguilar's disappearance.
"With everyone out there wanting blood, wanting me gone, I will give them what they want," Friman read.
She also read a damning line in which Bravo admitted to hurting Aguilar.
"I'm a monster for having hurt Chris the way I did," Friman read.
Bravo, who has been in custody for nearly two years, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, illegally transporting a body and providing false information to law enforcement.
Authorities allege Bravo gave varying accounts of the last time he claimed to have seen Aguilar, admitting the two were in a fist fight, but Aguilar asked to be let out of the vehicle. Bravo claimed he obliged and drove away from Aguilar.
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