After he was carjacked in his old Chevrolet Impala, Andres Felipe Del Castillo showed his Bible to his attacker, urging the man to find God.
The attacker nevertheless shot and killed Del Castillo.
After hearing the story, a jury on Tuesday night decided that the attacker, Cesar Ruiz, 26, is guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery. Del Castillos family erupted into tears afterward, content that Ruiz will spend the rest of his life in prison.
My son died so this man would stop. Its Gods glory that my son died so this man wouldnt harm society anymore, said Zulma Salazar, 65, Del Castillos mother.
Said Hernando Del Castillo, 32: My brother always said he wanted to save souls. And he did. God was always with him. God wanted this man to go to jail for the rest of his life.
A born-again Christian, Del Castillo graduated from Miami Springs High in 2001 where he was a member of the schools Homecoming Court. For two years, he worked at Dorals Dade Paper Co., where he was three weeks away from becoming a supervisor.
He had recently proposed to his girlfriend.
But prosecutors say Ruiz and Emilio Perez-Tejon, 18, were after Del Castillos 1996 Chevy Impala when they pulled him over on June 27, 2007 using a police-type light as Del Castillo was leaving a gas station while on break from Dade Paper Co.
Perez-Tejon told police that Ruiz, at gunpoint, took off with Del Castillo in the Impala while he drove off in the other car.
Del Castillos bullet-riddled body was later found at Northwest 100th Street and 108th Avenue. Hialeah police arrested Perez-Tejon later that day for loitering; he was found with Del Castillos ID and credit cards.
Emilio Perez-Tejon may have been the brains. He may have been the catalyst, but [Ruiz] was the brawn, said prosecutor Christine Hernandez, who tried the case with Griska Rodriguez.
Ruizs girlfriend, Maridelmis Orozco, 21, testified Tuesday that Ruiz later confessed to killing Del Castillo because the victim had seen his distinct forearm tattoo: the name Cesar.
Orozco also recounted how Ruiz told her about Del Castillo urging him to turn to Christianity.
Hernandez even showed jurors the black-bound, Spanish-language Bible, found in the trash outside Perez-Tejons house.
Defense attorney Sara Yousuf said that Ruiz had nothing to do with the murder. She suggested that Orozco, an admitted drug user facing up to 30 years on unrelated robbery case, was the one who participated in the carjacking.
You cannot trust this woman. You cannot trust a single word that comes out of her mouth, said Yousuf, who defended him along with Brian Kirlew.
One month after the crime, Ruiz and Orozco were captured in Texas, where prosecutors said they fled to avoid arrest for the murder.
Circuit Judge William Thomas will sentence Ruiz on Nov. 16.