Before he went to trial for the murder of a popular Miami musician during a violent burglary, Raul Reinosa tried unsuccessfully to fire his lawyer. Then, he blurted out to the judge: “All I want to do is die already.”
And finally, as jurors began hearing the overwhelming evidence against him, Reinosa realized he could not beat the rap.
So on Friday, one day after witnesses began testifying, the career criminal pleaded guilty to the murder of Louis Salgar, a 29-year-old punk rocker and bartender whose death three years ago led to a series of mournful charity events, murals painted on walls and even cocktails named in his honor.
“It’s been a very bad dream but it’s finally over,” said Manuel Salgar, the slain man’s father. “He had no choice. He knew he was guilty.”
Reinosa avoided the mandatory life sentence for first-degree murder. But he’s 55 years old and has only a remote chance to get out of prison before he dies of old age.
“It’s the only noble thing he’s probably ever done in his life,” said Nicole Salgar, Louis’ sister. “I thought he was a coward in the beginning. I still think that. But he did the right thing.”
In June 2014, Reinosa broke into the Upper Eastside home of Salgar, who worked at bars such as Wynwood’s Gramps and Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker, and also competed in the Bacardí Legacy Global Cocktail Competition. He also played in a band called Secret Arms.
A prosecutor called Reinosa a “crackhead who roamed the earth looking for drugs.” He ransacked the home and stole a loaded .357-caliber pistol kept by a roommate for protection. Salgar walked in on the burglary and was shot four times, including once in the head.
Prosecutors Scott Warfman and Sheila Vasquez presented a solid case that included Reinosa’s blood found on the window broken by the intruder. He was also found to have sold the stolen gun, and tried to sell a laptop swiped from the house on the 8400 block of Northeast Eighth Court .
And Reinosa also confessed to Miami homicide detectives, although he claimed the gun discharged during the struggle.
“Under the circumstances, the evidence certainly supported a conviction and I think the resolution provides justice for the family,” said his defense attorney, Tony Moss. “Now, he has a chance within the prison system to find some sort of redemption.”