Miami-Dade County

Domestic battery charge against former mayor dropped after ex skips court

Former Miami-Dade mayor and police director Carlos Alvarez beat domestic-violence accusations Monday after his ex-girlfriend failed to show up to testify at trial.

Prosecutors had no choice but to drop the misdemeanor battery charge because they didn’t have the testimony of Evelyn Fernandez, a Miami-Dade police lieutenant who had a long and tumultuous relationship with Alvarez.

Her absence wasn’t a surprise. Fernandez is facing her own criminal trial on allegations she broke into Alvarez’s Coral Gables condo. Had she been forced to testify against her former boyfriend, Fernandez had planned to invoke her right to remain silent.

Alvarez, donning his familiar guayabera shirt while talking to reporters outside Miami’s downtown family courthouse, insisted he was innocent. “Just a relief,” he said of the charge being dropped. “Hopefully we can both move on with our lives.”

The ex-mayor would not say whether he plans to testify against Fernandez at her upcoming trial.

Alvarez was arrested in April on accusations that he violently grabbed Fernandez, pinned her against a wall and spit on her after an argument over a cat in Coral Gables. As Alvarez was awaiting trial, the very public affair took another twist in July when Fernandez was arrested for allegedly breaking into his Coral Gables condo and causing damage to his property.

The whole saga was a humiliating turn for Alvarez, who had largely kept out of the spotlight after a long career in public service. He had to spend a night in jail and appeared in court wearing a jail jumpsuit and handcuffs.

After rising through the ranks, he became Miami-Dade’s police director in 1997 and was elected the county’s mayor in 2006. He was reelected in 2009, but was ultimately undone by his controversial support to use hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to build Marlins Park.

Voters in 2011 recalled Alvarez, who was also stung by his support for a property-tax increase and for doling out hefty raises to his aides. He has since maintained a low profile, save for 2013, when he won a bodybuilding contest for men over 60.

In the months after his April arrest, prosecutors had asked that the case be delayed three times. They asked again on Monday, but Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson refused, forcing them to drop the charge.

In a final memo on the case, Assistant State Attorney Elvia Medina Marcus noted that “this case would not be presented at trial without the testimony of the victim,” she wrote.

“There are no witnesses to the battery, the defendant did not make any statements to the police, and surveillance video does not exist,” she wrote.

Said Alvarez’s defense attorney, Douglas Hartman: “They finally dropped the charges, which they should have done from the beginning. He always maintained his innocence.”