It took eight years for Kendrick Silver to face a jury for the night he shot Coral Gables jogger Jose Marchese-Berrios with one fatal .38-caliber round to the chest during a robbery.
Jurors deliberated less than one hour to decide Silver is a murderer.
The 12-person jury on Monday swiftly convicted Silver of first-degree murder and armed robbery, rejecting his claim that the shot was an unintentional round meant only to “scare” the jogger.
Now, jurors will reconvene to decide whether to recommend the death penalty for the 27-year-old Silver.
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The victim’s son, Jose Campos-Marchese, squeezed his eyes shut and exhaled as the court clerk read the verdict. The memories were visceral. Just after he was shot, his father staggered back to his family’s tiny Coral Gables apartment and died in his son’s arms, gasping for air and drowning in his own blood.
Campos-Marchese was 15 at the time. Now 23, he is studying at Miami Dade College hoping to pursue a career in journalism.
“Relief,” Campos-Marchese said after the verdict. “I’m just happy there is justice. I’m so thankful for all the hard work and heart the detectives and the state attorney’s office put into this.”
At the time, the case rocked Coral Gables — which hadn’t recorded a homicide in four years. Miami-Dade prosecutors say Silver and friend Oniel Pedley went on a crime spree back in late 2006 and 2007.
The two worked together at the popular North Miami restaurant Esther’s, 777 NW 103rd St., where they are believed to have targeted 62-year-old security guard Solmeus Accimeus. He was shot to death outside his car at the restaurant on the night of Dec. 16, 2006.
Silver is still awaiting trial for the guard’s killing.
Prosecutors believe that Silver and Pedley committed several other robberies, crimes for which they have not yet been charged.
The jogger was murdered five months later in May 2007. Their last violent crime unfolded in June 2007 when Silver and Pedley — wielding pistols and an assault-style rifle — stormed a Delray Beach pizzeria at closing time, shooting and wounding three people.
After a nine-hour manhunt, police found the pair hiding on a boat docked behind a Delray Beach home. Both have been convicted; Silver is doing 50 years, while Pedley got life behind bars.
Earlier this summer, Pedley pleaded guilty to both Miami-Dade murders — in North Miami-Dade and Coral Gables — and agreed to serve 40 years in prison. He cooperated with the state, although ultimately he was not called to testify in the jogger-killing trial.
During the weeklong trial, jurors heard the pair pulled up their car alongside Marchese-Berrios, 39, a Peru-born maintenance man who was out for an evening jog on Salzedo Street, between Southwest Eighth Street and Alhambra Circle, police said. They asked for directions before Silver jumped out, swiped his phone, backed up briefly and shot the man.
Miami-Dade detectives tracked the stolen cellphone to Silver’s girlfriend in Delray Beach. In his detailed confession, Silver admitted to pulling the gun while robbing the man.
“I thought the dude died. He was talking and he had the phone like this. I snatched it and he turned around I backed up a couple steps and just shot, just shot once,” Silver told Miami-Dade Detective Michael Scott in a video-taped confession shown to jurors last week.
During closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Gail Levine said Silver “didn’t care what he had to do to get” the cellphone.
“One shot, through the chest, through the right lung,” Levine said. “That’s an execution.”
As she spoke, Campos-Marchese — flanked by Coral Gables police Officer Kevin Kelley — sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery, his face clearly pained.
With Silver’s damning confession in evidence, the defense team did not shy away from the shooting itself.
Instead, Assistant Public Defender Steven Yermish argued that Silver was guilty only of petty theft and manslaughter for a gunshot fired after the jogger ran toward him aggressively. “This is no an execution. There was no intent,” Yermish said. “A shot to scare him.”