MIAMI (AP) — A senior Canadian diplomat testified Friday that her teenage son was never in trouble or violent before his alleged involvement in a drug-related shootout that left her other son dead.
Roxanne Dube, Canada’s consul general in Miami, said 15-year-old Marc Wabafiyebazu had dyslexia and other learning disabilities, but never had disciplinary or behavioral trouble in school.
“Marc is the son that every parent would want to have,” Dube said. “He is a good boy. He was the younger brother and he loved his older brother. He was highly influenced by his older brother.”
Wabafiyebazu has been charged with murder in the deaths of his 17-year-old brother, Jean Wabafiyebazu, and 17-year-old Joshua Wright on March 30, in what prosecutors say was an alleged attempt by the brothers to rob marijuana dealers inside a Miami apartment. Two other young men — both of whom were wounded in the hail of bullets — also are facing charges.
Dube’s testimony came during the second day of a hearing on whether Wabafiyebazu should be released from jail on bail before his pending trial. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler said she will likely issue a ruling next week.
The key to Marc Wabafiyebazu’s defense is that he didn’t try to shoot anyone and essentially waited outside in his mother’s BMW — which carried diplomatic plates — while his older brother went inside to commit the robbery. Under Florida law, however, anyone involved in killings while another felony is being committed can be charged with murder. Prosecutors say his role was to be a lookout.
The defense is also seeking to place sole blame on Jean Wabafiyebazu for the attempted robbery, contending that his younger brother was simply along for the ride.
“He didn’t have the same self-confidence that Jean had,” Dube testified.
If her son is released on bail, Dube added, she promised to abide by all conditions and see to it that he attends all court hearings.
“I give my word to the court that I would do that. I am absolutely convinced of Marc’s innocence,” Dube said.
Earlier Thursday, Miami police officer Juan Velez testified that Marc Wabafiyebazu voluntarily made several incriminating statements while he was being taken to a juvenile detention center. The boy admitted the shooting had been the result of a failed drug rip-off, Velez said, and that the brothers had committed similar robberies in the past, including in Canada.
Velez also said he did not give Wabafiyebazu a Miranda warning about making self-incriminating statements because he was merely the transport officer, not an investigator.
“So, it was kind of a stream-of-consciousness type of blurting out?” asked Assistant State Attorney Marie Mato.
“Correct,” Velez replied. “If he didn’t want to speak to me, he didn’t have to speak to me.”
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Curt Obront, however, Velez admitted that some of what he heard Wabafiyebazu say seemed contradicted by other evidence, such as whether the boy fired a shot at someone else or merely into the air.
“I’m just telling you what he told me. That’s what I understood,” Velez said.
Investigators previously testified that evidence indicates Jean Wabafiyebazu and Wright fatally shot each other during the confrontation over about 2 pounds of marijuana. Two other people in the apartment suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds.
Police say Marc Wabafiyebazu went into the apartment after hearing gunshots and picked up his brother’s 40-caliber semi-automatic handgun. He had a brief confrontation with 19-year-old Anthony Rodriguez, who allegedly brought the marijuana to the deal, outside the apartment, but apparently did not fire any shots at Rodriguez when he drove away.
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