In November of last year, a jury found Rafael Andres guilty of the first-degree murder of Ivette Fariñas, a waitress who worked at Miami International Airport. He was also found guilty of first-degree arson for the fire he set in her home in his attempt to destroy the evidence of the crime he committed, as well as robbery with a weapon, and burglary with battery.
The evidence against the handyman was damning to say the least. Moments before the victim’s home went up in flames a neighbor identified him fleeing from the premises with a gas can in his possession. Secondly, a washcloth, covered with blood that contained DNA that matched his was found in close proximity to the body, not destroyed by the fire. It was also discovered that after the time of Fariña’s death, Andres used her debit card to make cash withdrawals from an ATM, make purchases at a Home Depot, fill up his car with gasoline, and book a room at the Miccosukee Resort and Casino.
This also was not the first time that Andres was found guilty for a homicide charge.
Almost thirty years ago he was convicted for the fatal beating and stabbing death of Linda Azcarreta who was an apparent friend of his at the time of the homicide. Azcarreta’s son Rene, who was seven years old at the time of the crime, found his mother’s body in their Miami home. Now, thirty-five years old he was present at the sentencing for Andres’ current crime and broke down when the details of his mother’s murder were discussed during trial. He was comforted by Luisa Moya, the 63 year old mother of Andres’ latest victim.
However, Andres who agreed to a plea agreement of nine years for the first homicide only served eighteen months in prison for that crime based on good behavior as well as the then-overcrowded prison system.
After hearing all the evidence against Andres in the primary trial for the killing of Fariñas, it took the jury approximately nine hours of deliberations to return a verdict of guilty of all charges listed in the criminal complaint against him.
A month later, during the penalty phase, the jury recommended that Andres be put to death by a vote of 9-3. Florida is the only state in the nation where only a simple majority is required for a sentence of death to be instituted. Early last month, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Dava Tunis affirmed a resounding confirmation by formally sentencing Andres to death fulfilling the wishes of the majority of jurors.
She spoke directly to Andres as she handed down his sentence stating “As you tightened the cord around her neck, she was alive. She was losing her ability to breath. Duct tape was tightened around her nostrils while you deliberately, atrociously and cruelly tightened that cord around her neck.”
Although Andres will be jailed directly, it will likely take many years before he faces the ultimate legal penalty. The last person to be executed in Florida for a capital crime was Johnny Shane Kormondy, who was convicted as the leader of a home invasion robbery where a banker from the Florida panhandle was murdered and his wife was raped in July, 1993. He was sentenced eleven months later. From the commencement of his incarceration he filed numerous appeals through his attorneys’ including a last minute appeal that delayed his execution by nearly two hours but was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court. He was executed on January 15, 2015, more than twenty years after his sentence was imposed.
At the time of the writing of this blog post, twenty two persons have been executed in the State of Florida during the twenty-first century. The next person in line for execution is Jerry William Correll. Correll was sentenced to death nearly thirty years ago for the murders of his ex-wife, her mother and sister, as well as his daughter in a brutal stabbing frenzy. However, in this case, the execution has been stayed pending a US Supreme Court decision which will hear a case involving lethal injection protocol due to a botched execution in Oklahoma. The Florida Supreme Court said it “must err on the side of extreme caution” and decided to stay the execution until the opinion of the highest court is decided since Florida uses the same method.
To read further about capital crimes, visit this page on my Website. The definition as well as an explanation of the two-phase process can be found along with my personal experience and the history of capital punishment accessible by the link at the bottom of the page.