Detailed cell phone records and a confession to a jailhouse informant proves a teen was one of the killers during a botched carjacking at a Miami Gardens gas station, prosecutors told jurors on Monday.
“This man is a murderer,” said prosecutor Michael Von Zamft, standing next to and pointing at Dylan McFarlane.
Countered defense attorney Ed O’Donnell: “There is not one thing corroborating what they said. Not a witness. Zero.”
After a two week-trial, jurors were slated to begin deliberating late Monday in the callous double murder at Mobil gas station in July 2011.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Prosecutors say McFarlane was one of four robbers who went on a crime spree that culminated in their attempt to steal a Ford Mustang occupied by driver Julian Soler and Kennia Duran.
Soler and Duran were random victims, longtime friends who had just returned from his birthday celebration at a local Denny’s. Early that morning, they had pulled into the gas station to fuel up the Mustang.
Video surveillance, played at trial, captured the killings in brutal detail.
A group of robbers on a crime spree pulled up to the station and tried to steal the Mustang. Neither Soler or Duran resisted. One gunman shot Soler as the young man held his hands up in surrender.
McFarlane, now 21, is accused of shooting the passenger Duran – a 24-year-old mother of one – as she stood next to the car during the robbery. “Listen to the video,” prosecutor Alejandra Lopez told the jury. “You will hear her cries of pain as she goes down.”
He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, armed carjacking, armed robbery and armed burglary. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Another co-defendant, Wayne Williams, agreed to serve 17 years in prison; he is now trying to withdraw his guilty plea. Jurors last year convicted the third co-defendant, Eric Ellington, who shot Soler. Ellington – 16 at the time of the shooting – was sentenced to life in prison.
Ellington confessed in detail, an audio recorded statement played for jurors. And fingerprints found on the Mustang identifed Ellington as the young robber who shot Soler.
But this time around, prosecutors had much less evidence.
While Ellington identified McFarlane as the second shooter, by law, prosecutors could not use his confession at a co-defendant’s trial. In McFarlane’s case, prosecutors had no confession, prints, DNA or eyewitnsses.
Instead, they presented cell phone records that showed McFarlane talked to the co-defendants in the run up to the killings. Thirteen minutes before the killing, McFarlane’s phone was located less than a mile from the gas station where Soler and Duran were gunned down.
An inmate named Bradford Lumpkin also testified that McFarlane, in a jail cell, admitted to the shooting. O’Donnell called Lumpkin a lying “professional informant and 12-time convicted felon” who cut a deal with prosecutors to save his own skin.
“What would ever prompt [McFarlane] to form an allegiance with this loser who just walked in,” O’Donnell said.
Another inmate also told jurors that McFarlane tried to concoct a plan to assassinate Lumpkin after he began cooperating with prosecutors.