A New Jersey man will serve life in prison for the murder of retired Miami police Capt. Robert Yee at a marina in July 2009.
A Miami-Dade judge on Friday handed down the sentence for Rafael Toirac-Aguilera, 39, who was convicted last month of first-degree murder. Jurors convicted him thanks to DNA and fingerprints found on an orange-juice bottle used as a homemade silencer found at the crime scene.
The sentence was no surprise — under Florida law, a conviction for first-degree murder carries an automatic life prison term.
Yee spent 25 years as a Miami cop, retiring in the mid-1990s after a decorated career that included leading the department’s horse mounted patrol. Friday’s sentencing was marked by tearful words from former colleagues and family, including his widow and his daughter, who is a police officer in Doral.
His widow, Marisel Yee, tearfully recalled her “rock” who took his job in law enforcement seriously.
“I feel closure, at least a little bit. Justice was done,” Marisel Yee said afterward.
The sentencing was also significant for retiring Miami homicide Detective Andy Arostegui, who worked on the case — and counted Friday as his last day on the job after 37 years on the force.
Back in 2009, Yee had returned to work, overseeing daily operations at the self-service Hurricane Cove Marina on Northwest North River Drive. Prosecutors said Toirac-Aguilera, in a rented silver car he drove from New Jersey, pulled up and shot the 61-year-old as he was riding in the golf cart he used to patrol the grounds in July 2009.
Prosecutors believe the killer was dispatched by someone — exactly whom remains a mystery — upset that the retired officer was telling federal agents about illegal activities at the marina.
The key clue was the Tropicana orange-juice bottle, wrapped in black tape that had been used as a homemade silencer. The bottle blew off the barrel of the gun and landed near Yee’s body.
Finger and palm prints, plus DNA on the lip of the bottle, matched Toirac-Aguilera — a New Jersey man who had been arrested in a domestic-violence case there a few months after the shooting.
At trial, Toirac-Aguilera’s ex-girlfriend testified that in July 2009, the two drove a rented silver Toyota Corolla to Miami. She believed he was coming for some unspecified work. Multiple eye witnesses told police that the gunman drove a silver Corolla.