Justice wasn’t swift, but justice has been done.
Four and a half years after viciously attacking two men outside a restroom in Lummus Park during Miami Beach Pride on April 8, 2018, the four men charged have all pleaded guilty.
Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, Juan Carlos Lopez, Adonis David Diaz, and Luis Manuel Alonso-Piovet all pleaded guilty to two counts of battery with prejudice, which are second-degree felonies. Alonso-Piovet also pleaded guilty to assault with prejudice on religious or institutional grounds, a misdemeanor.
They could have faced 15 years in prison.
Instead, the court is withholding adjudication and sentencing them to five years probation, 200 hours of community service, anger management, mental and substance abuse evaluations and any recommended treatments. They must all stay away from the victims. Diaz was also sentenced to 37 days in jail, which he has already served.
They were all also required to apologize to the victims in court, which all four did on the spot.
Alonso-Piovet said “I was raised in a family that [inaudible] violence and to turn the other cheek. I wish we had acted in a different way and offered my sincere apology to both [victims].” Lopez said. “I want to offer my sincere apologies to Rene Chalarca and Dimitry Logunov. My actions that day do not define who I am or how I was raised. It was never my intention to hurt them. My wish is that everyone involved can move past and take the lessons.”
Both victims, Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov were there and signed off on the plea agreement. A statement was read on their behalf, which reads in part, “It’s been almost five years. Almost half of my time living in the United States. I’m dealing with the fears of being myself, the reason I left my home country.”
They expressed hope that the four men will use their second chance to get their lives on track and learn from this.
Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan gave them the benefit of the doubt, saying she doesn’t know if the defendants set out that day to do violence, or if it was a poor decision on the spot, saying, “Actions have consequences and whether you intended those consequences or not, all of you can see how actions taken have consequences that have offended the community in South Florida tremendously.”
Years of Delays
Their defense attorneys have forestalled this day for more than four and a half years by filing motions, taking depositions, and other legal tactics. Often the hope is that witnesses start to forget details.
The most brazen attempt to get them off the legal hook came earlier this year when they tried to use a “Stand Your Ground” defense, essentially saying the victims were to blame for the confrontation. However, there is a clear surveillance video that shows that wasn’t the case, and Judge Fajardo Orshan dismissed the defense.
One point that was never brought up outright during the hearing was the homophobic and gay-bashing angle of the case. While the charges do address the attack was done with “prejudice,” nothing was said on behalf of the LGBT community.
The judge and prosecution were ready to seat a jury and go to trial today, which may have facilitated the timing of reaching the plea deal.
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