After years of delays it appears the case of four men accused of attacking a gay couple in 2018 on Miami Beach is inching towards a resolution.
A status hearing was held two weeks ago on Zoom where the prosecution said all of the depositions of the law enforcement officers had been taken. Now they're ready to move on to the civilians.
The next hearing will be held at the end of March.
Justin Funck, the attorney representing the state, told the judge he hopes all of the depositions will be taken by that time “and we'll have an answer, as to whether or not, we're going to resolve this, or if we're going to have to set it for trial as soon as we can go to trial.”
This case is now almost three years old.
One of the defendants — Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa — attended the status hearing but did not speak.
In June 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.
The four defendants — Adonis Diaz, Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis Alonso-Piovet, and Romo-Figueroa — all in their early 20s, have pleaded not guilty.
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 and a hate crime enhancement was added to the charges.
A third person, Helmut Estrada, attempted to assist Chalarca and Logunov. He was also attacked during the altercation and injured.
Criminal jury trials are still on pause in Florida because of the pandemic.