The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information; however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes.
CARABALLO, Victor (H/M)
Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County Case # 02-12509
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable William Thomas
Attorney, Trial: Gary I Rosenberg – Court Appointed
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Andrew Stanton – Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: TBA
Date of Offense: 04/27/02
Date of Sentence: 06/07/07
Circumstances of Offense:
Victor Caraballo was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, and sexual battery of Ana Maria Angel on 06/07/07. Caraballo was also convicted of the attempted first-degree murder, robbery, and kidnapping of Nelson Portobanco.
On April 27, 2002, Angel and her boyfriend Portobanco, both high school students, went on a dinner date. After dinner, the two went for a walk on Miami Beach that lasted about 30 minutes. Around 12:30 a.m. on April 28, they decided to leave the beach and go home. As Angel and Portobanco walked to their car, they were stopped at gunpoint and forced into the rear cab of a white Ford F-150 pickup truck. Victor Caraballo, Joel Lebron, Hector Caraballo, Cesar Mena, and Jesus Torres Roman were inside the truck. The group had traveled from Orlando to Miami Beach on the evening of April 27 in the rented truck. Mena was the driver and Caraballo was the front-seat passenger. Hector Caraballo, Lebron, and Roman sat in the rear cab of the truck with Angel and Portobanco. While in the truck, Angel and Portobanco were robbed of their belongings, which included Angel‘s purse, cell phone, Florida identification card, automatic teller machine (ATM) card, various items of jewelry, and Portobanco‘s wallet and cell phone. After forcing Angel to reveal her personal identification number (PIN), the robbers used her ATM card to withdraw money from an ATM and to purchase gasoline.
Thereafter, the truck entered Interstate 95 and proceeded in a northerly direction with Angel and Portobanco trapped in the rear cab. At one point, Portobanco was told to kiss Angel and then to touch her in an intimate manner. When Portobanco refused, he was pushed onto the floorboard. Angel was then brutally gang-raped by the other three occupants of the rear cab. Thereafter, Caraballo exclaimed that it was his turn, climbed into the back seat, and sexually battered Angel. After the sexual attacks ended, the truck continued traveling north and then stopped alongside the interstate. Portobanco was forced out of the truck and down an embankment. There, he was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead. One of Portobanco‘s multiple stab wounds was located extremely close to an artery.
The truck continued to travel north on the interstate for several more miles with Angel still trapped inside. When the truck stopped again, Angel was forced out of the truck and taken to a retaining wall alongside the interstate. There, Angel was forced to her knees and was shot once in the back of her head killing her instantly. After brutally stabbing Portobanco and fatally shooting Angel, the group of five headed back home to Orlando during the early morning hours of April 28. The rental truck was returned to the rental agency in Orlando that same day.
Portobanco, who did not succumb to his injuries, made his way to the side of the road and summoned help. There, a passerby stopped and emergency personnel were called. Portobanco was taken to a Miami hospital where he talked with law enforcement officers while being treated. Portobanco told the officers about the kidnapping and explained that when he last saw Angel, she was alive. After law enforcement officers obtained the numbers for both Angel‘s and Portobanco‘s cell phones, a call was traced from one of the phones to a residential telephone number at the Hawthorne Village Apartments in Orlando. The phone number was linked to Hector Caraballo.
During the morning of April 28, local and statewide law enforcement officers set up a staging area in south Orange County in the vicinity of the Hawthorne Village Apartments. Although the officers did not locate Hector Caraballo, the Hawthorne Village staff informed them that a person named Victor Caraballo was recently a tenant in the complex. Apartment staff told law enforcement that Caraballo had been evicted and that his apartment should be vacant. Law enforcement officers went to the apartment formerly rented by Caraballo and knocked on the door. Hawthorne Village staff, who accompanied the officers to the apartment, discovered that someone placed a new noncompliant lock on the apartment door. Despite multiple attempts to get the attention of anyone who might be inside, no one came to the door. Thereafter, with the consent of Hawthorne Village staff, law enforcement officers kicked in the door and entered the apartment. Once inside the apartment, they discovered that the door had been barricaded with a piece of wood and a hydraulic jack, and they discovered someone who identified himself as Victor Caraballo.
Caraballo, whose primary language is Spanish, was advised in Spanish of his Miranda rights. After indicating that he understood his rights, he signed a waiver form printed in Spanish. Caraballo acknowledged that he and four others (Hector Caraballo, Mena, Lebron, and Roman) traveled to Miami Beach the evening before and robbed a young couple. Caraballo stated that Portobanco was beaten and left at some point during the trip back to Orlando, but he claimed that Angel traveled back to Orlando with the group and that she begged to be let go throughout the trip. Caraballo admitted to having some of the items belonging to Angel and Portobanco. He showed FDLE Agent Francisco Hidalgo where various items were located in the apartment, including Portobanco‘s wallet and Angel‘s purse, cell phone, and ATM card. In an abundance of caution, Hidalgo also obtained consent from Caraballo to search the apartment and seize the items. That evening, Caraballo was taken to the Orlando FDLE office where he made another statement. Several months after the murder, Caraballo wrote a letter that contained a voluntary confession and sent it to the State Attorney‘s Office.
Codefendant Mena was convicted of six of the seven counts and sentenced to life in prison.
Codefendant Roman was convicted of all seven counts and sentenced to life in prison. Roman was under the age of eighteen at the time of the murder.
Codefendants Lebron and Hector Caraballo are still awaiting trial.
05/08/02 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Attempted)
Count III: Kidnapping
Count IV: Kidnapping
Count V: Robbery
Count VI: Robbery
Count VII: Sexual Battery
04/13/07 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
06/07/07 Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3
06/07/07 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Attempted) – Life
Count III: Kidnapping – Life
Count IV: Kidnapping – Life
Count V: Robbery – 30 years
Count VI: Robbery – 30 years
Count VII: Sexual Battery – Life
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
07/20/07 Appeal filed
06/24/10 FSC affirmed the convictions but reversed the death sentence, remanded to the CC for a new penalty phase
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
It took almost five years for Caraballo’s case to go to trial.
Caraballo’s direct appeal was pending for almost three years in the Florida Supreme Court as several motions to extend time were granted.
On 07/20/07, Caraballo filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. On direct appeal, Caraballo raised nine issues: (1) whether the entry into the apartment where Caraballo was found violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, rendering the fruits of the entry, search, and seizure inadmissible; (2) whether the interrogation of Caraballo violated his Miranda rights; (3) whether certain prosecutorial comments were improper; (4) whether the State’s victim-impact testimony deprived Caraballo of due process; (5) whether the trial court erred in permitting penalty phase testimony from an expert appointed to evaluate Caraballo’s competence to proceed; (6) whether Florida law prevented Caraballo from establishing mental retardation; (7) whether Caraballo’s death sentence violates Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002); (8) whether the cumulative effect of errors committed at trial deprived Caraballo of a fair trial; and (9) whether Caraballo’s death sentence is proportional. On 06/24/10, the FSC affirmed Caraballo’s convictions and affirmed Caraballo’s sentences for the attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, and sexual battery. The FSC, however, vacated Caraballo’s sentence of death for the murder of Angel and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings regarding claim (5) of the direct appeal.
Report Date: 06/25/10 KKR
Approved: 00/00/00 Initials
Updated: 12/06/10 JJK