The eldest teen son of a Canadian diplomat appears to have been no stranger to buying marijuana in Miami.
Three times in the weeks leading up to a planned ripoff that left him dead, 17-year-old Jean Wabafiyebazu met with a drug broker in the parking lot of a Little Havana Walgreens, the man told investigators. Two of those times, Jean shelled out $2,800 cash for a pound of marijuana stuffed in a Ziplock bag.
“He kind of knew the price range already,” Robert Sanchez told investigators in a sworn statement obtained by the Miami Herald. “So he kind of knew what he was doing.”
It was during his fourth meeting, this time inside a Coral Way-area apartment on March 30, that prosecutors say Jean tried to rob dealers of two pounds of marijuana at gunpoint. In the bloody shootout, Jean and 17-year-old marijuana dealer Joshua Wright were shot to death, while two others were wounded.
Jean’s younger brother, 15-year-old Marc, is now facing a felony murder charge for allegedly participating in the armed robbery that led to the killings. Marc, who has pleaded not guilty, appeared in court on Wednesday for a brief hearing.
His lawyers are asking a judge to release Marc on bail before trial; a hearing is set for May 27. “We have confidence in the system and we look forward to our day in court,” his defense lawyer, Curt Obront, said on Wednesday.
The brothers are the sons of Roxanne Dubé, the Canadian general consul in Miami who had just moved to Pinecrest to assume her post.
The testimony of the deal’s broker, Robert Sanchez — who also witnessed the shootout — was released Wednesday by prosecutors as part of the criminal case against Marc. His recount fills in at least some of the back story of how the deadly drug deal was arranged.
Sanchez, 26, is a former Coral Gables High student who had been selling small amounts of marijuana during the past few years. In early February — not long after the Canadians arrived in Miami from Ottawa — he received a mysterious text from someone he learned later was Jean. Sanchez told investigators that he did not know how the Canadian received his phone number. But the two began exchanging texts and phone calls.
“He was just trying to look for marijuana at the time, where to buy some marijuana,” Sanchez told Miami-Dade prosecutor Marie Mato and Miami Detective Freddy Ponce during an April 10 sworn statement.
Sanchez turned to his supplier, a man named Mario, who accompanied him to their first meeting with the Canadian. The place: the parking lot of a Walgreens at 4200 SW Eighth St.
Jean, a Gulliver High student, pulled up in a silver Nissan Altima. His passenger, believed to be younger brother Marc, never got out of the car as Jean hopped in the Sanchez’s Cadillac. The Canadian balked at the asking price of $3,000, according to Sanchez, and at the quality of the herb.
“He said that it wasn’t like — I don’t know, it wasn’t a good strain of bud, that he didn’t like it,” Sanchez said.
About a week later, Sanchez told Jean that “I got some new stuff.” Again, they met at the Walgreens. This time, the product was better and the price was set at $2,800. “He paid for it. He took the weed and paid for it, got back in his car and left,” Sanchez said.
About another week later, Sanchez sold yet another pound to Jean in the Walgreens parking lot. Again, Marc remained in the car.
“He never got out of the car,” Sanchez said. “He was always there as a passenger.”
In a previous court filing, Marc’s defense has sought to distance the teen from his brother’s actions. Marc “is not a hardened criminal. He is just a shy kid who did not know anyone in Miami other than his troubled older brother,” Obront and lawyer Michael James Corey wrote in asking for bail.
By late March, Sanchez said that Jean was repeatedly calling and texting for more marijuana. But Mario, the supplier, was at the popular Ultra music festival and couldn’t be reached.
Sanchez told investigators that he arranged a deal through someone known to him only as “Little Kevin,” believed to be Wright, the other teen killed in the shooting.
The afternoon of the shooting, Sanchez went to the small apartment where Wright was with his pal, Johann Ruiz, and Ruiz’s teen girlfriend. Wright in turned called his supplier, whom police say was a known doper named Anthony Rodriguez.
Sanchez smoked a joint with Wright and Ruiz until the Canadian showed up. Surveillance video released last month in the case showed the brothers arrived in their mother’s black BMW with diplomatic license plates. Only Jean went into the house to make what was supposed to be a $4,800 deal for two pounds of pot.
Sanchez said that he stayed in the back patio fiddling around on Instagram on his phone. “They keep talking about where is the money, but where is the money. Then he is like, ‘Well, where is the weed,’ this and that,” Sanchez said. “From a conversation, they started shooting.”
He added: “I don’t know who shot first.”
Sanchez took off running, jumping several fences, before he stopped at a nearby funeral home. He later contacted a lawyer, then turned himself into police for questioning.
Rodriguez and Ruiz, who were wounded in the shooting, are charged with third-degree felony murder for allegedly participating in the drug deal that led to the deaths.
According to Miami police, Marc — while being transported to a detention center — spontaneously confessed to being in on the plan to rob the marijuana. Investigators believe that Marc rushed in to the apartment after the shooting, grabbed his brother’s pistol and fired some shots, although it is unclear whether he aimed at Rodriguez.
The surveillance video shows Marc chasing Rodriguez as he drives off, trying to get into Rodriguez’s car. Defense lawyers say the video “completely exonerates” Marc because he is not seen firing the weapon or actively participating as a look-out.
Marc also told the transport officer that he and his brother had committed robberies before, according to police.