Next month will be three years since four men were arrested for attacking a gay couple after the closing festivities of Miami Beach Pride.
A status hearing was held Tuesday on Zoom where the prosecution announced they were in talks with the defendants about a possible plea deal.
“We are in the midst of plea negotiations [...] there are some discussions going back and forth with some various options,” Justin Funck, the attorney representing the state, said during the hearing. “I do think we're very close to either this case resolving by way of plea, or I think all parties being able to certify ready for trial.”
The next status hearing will take place in mid-April.
April 8 will mark three years since the attack occurred.
The four defendants — Adonis Diaz, Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso-Piovet, and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa — all in their early 20s, have pleaded not guilty.
Romo-Figueroa attended the status hearing, but did not speak.
Here’s a recap of what allegedly happened: the attack took place when Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov were leaving a public bathroom in Lummus Park in Miami Beach on April 8, 2018.
“We were walking and holding hands and needed to use the bathroom,” Logunov told SFGN in 2018. So the two of them stopped at a public restroom as they headed home for the evening.
As Logunov walked out of the restroom he was allegedly called a “faggot” in Spanish, punched, and then beaten unconscious. His boyfriend at the time, Chalarca, quickly intervened, but three more men jumped in and began to attack them both.
The attack was caught on camera and the four defendants have been charged with three counts of aggravated battery. A hate crime enhancement was later added to the charges.
A third person, Helmut Estrada, attempted to assist Chalarca and Logunov. He was also attacked during the altercation and injured.
In June of last year Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle apologized to the LGBT community for the continued delays, blaming much of it on COVID-19.
“Honestly, this is such a priority for us. I know it’s very frustrating because it has taken a long time,” she said during a state attorney candidate virtual town hall hosted by SAVE. “If those defense attorneys don’t set it down, and don’t move, and the judges don’t prod them to do it, it does languish a bit.”
Rundle noted that originally the four defendants were represented by the same lawyer. Each defendant then sought their own legal counsel which drew out the case and further complicated it with more moving parts.
Most criminal jury trials are still on pause in Florida because of the pandemic.