The teen son of Canada’s General Consul in Miami will fight the felony murder charge in connection with his brother’s death during a drug deal turned violent.
Miami attorney, Montreal-born Curt Obront, said Thursday that 15-year-old Marc Wabafiyebazu plans to plead not guilty.
“This case was a tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims in this case,” Obront told the Miami Herald. “Two teenagers lost their lives.”
He added: “My client has an unblemished record. He’s never had any problems whatsoever with arrests or convictions. We certainly plan on entering a plea of not guilty and look forward to defending him in this horrible and unfortunate circumstance.”
Obront spoke Thursday as officials released an audio transcript of a court hearing in which the teen is described as firing a “silver handgun multiple times” after his brother was killed.
A Miami-Dade judge cited the reported discharge of bullets in keeping Marc , the son of Consul General Roxanne Dubé, in secure detention ahead of a court hearing next week.
The audio transcript was from a hearing in juvenile court that took place Tuesday afternoon, when news of the teen’s arrest by Miami police still remained hush. His arrest on a felony murder charge, first reported by the Miami Herald, has since sparked intense interest, particularly in Canada.
Dubé, a veteran and highly regarded Canadian diplomat appointed to the Miami post in November, asked for privacy on Thursday.
“For now, we just want to be there for Marc, our incredibly caring son who loved his brother very much, and to say goodbye, ever so tenderly and quietly to Jean, our love,” Dubé said in a statement released through Canada’s Foreign Affairs office.
Authorities say Marc Wabafiyebazu and his older brother, 17-year-old Jean, arranged to buy two pounds of marijuana for over $4,000 inside a Coral Way apartment on Monday afternoon. The two drove their mother’s black BMW with diplomatic plates to the deal.
But the brothers actually planned to rob the drug dealers of the stash, detectives believe, and a gun battle erupted.
Jean was killed. One of the suspected drug dealers, Joshua Wright, 17, was also shot dead. One unidentified man was shot in the stomach. And Miami teen Anthony Rodriguez, 19, was wounded in the left arm.
According to police records, Marc was waiting outside in the car when the gunfire erupted. Sources have told the Miami Herald that investigators believe Marc rushed in, grabbed a gun and emerged while firing at Rodriguez as the teen ran away from the apartment.
In Florida, someone who participates in a violent felony in which someone dies – in this case, an armed robbery – can be charged with murder. Marc is also charged with threatening a Miami homicide detective while at police headquarters.
According to an arrest report, Marc was being transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center when he made a “spontaneous statement” to an officer admitting “he went to the house to steal the drugs while he waited in the car but then his brother got killed.”
Rodriguez remains jailed on a third-degree felony murder charge. Police say he participated in the drug deal that led to Wright and Jean’s demise.
Wright’s girlfriend told the National Post that he met Jean at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival one week ago.
At Tuesday’s court hearing, Marc’s lawyer asked that the Palmetto Senior High student be allowed to remain with his mother pending trial.
Obront tried to cast doubt that the teen participated in the drug deal. “He was never in the house,” Obront told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria de Jesus Santovenia.
He said that Marc actually “flagged down” police officers rushing to the scene.
A prosecutors called Marc a “flight risk” who could flee to Canada. The judge, after reading the arrest reports, nevertheless found probable cause and held him in detention before Wednesday’s hearing.
Prosecutors must now decide whether to charge Marc as an adult. As for Dubé, she must now bury one son, and help the other prepare his legal case.
“We also want to express our most sincere condolences to the family of Joshua Wright who have also lost their son and to all of those who have been so tragically affected in this unimaginable circumstance. Your grief is our grief,” she said in her statement.
“We can only hope that, in time, we will find common purpose towards diminishing the causes of such violent crimes.”