Crime

Accused of gruesome murder, former Presidente supermarket owner sued for wrongful death

Manuel Marin, a wealthy Miami businessman who owned a series of Presidente supermarkets, is awaiting trial in criminal court on allegations he masterminded the savage murder of his wife’s secret lover.

Now, Marin is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The estate of Camilo Salazar, whose body was discovered on a rural dirt road in West Miami-Dade in June 2011, has filed suit against Marin. Police say Salazar, 43, was beaten, his throat slit, his groin burned.

The suit also named Yaddiel Marin, his son, who prosecutors say funded Marin’s seven-year jaunt as a fugitive in Spain, and Maria Marin, Yaddiel’s mother. The lawsuit alleges that the mother and son helped Manuel Marin move money before the murder “in anticipation of the crime,” and were “necessary and pivotal participants” in his flight from the law.

The lawsuit was filed late last week on behalf of Salazar’s widow, Daisy Lewis Holcombe, and their two children.

“The last seven years have been incredibly difficult for the entire family: they lost a father, son, brother and husband in the most heinous of ways,” the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Widlanski, said in a statement released Monday. “We will aggressively seek a just and speedy resolution of our claims to allow the family to finally get the closure it has waited for.”

Salazar, of Coconut Grove, was a former Ultimate Frisbee world champion and member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. But secretly, he had reconnected with Jenny Marin, an old flame, and the two had a secret affair starting sometime after 2008. “He was not perfect,” the lawsuit said.

But Jenny Marin was married to Manuel Marin, who later discovered the affair and even confronted the two at a coffee shop, according to prosecutors. Jenny Marin wanted a divorce and refused to reconcile, driving Manuel Marin to murder, according to the lawsuit filed by Widlanski, of the law firm Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton.

Homicide detectives say Marin, 64, recruited a boxing promoter and two mixed-martial-arts fighters to help him kidnap, torture and murder Salazar on June 1, 2011. Three days later, Marin took his passport and fled to Europe. The key evidence: That night, according to police, Marin’s phone was used in the same area where Salazar’s corpse was later discovered, and toll records also showed him driving near where the body was found.

Arrested and jailed so far: Alexis Vila Perdomo, a former Cuban bronze medalist in wrestling who went on to have a short-lived career in MMA. He’s charged with conspiracy to commit murder — cops say he helped arrange and plan the killing, while he was in Las Vegas training for a fight.

A cohort, Roberto Isaac, is also jailed on allegations he helped carry out the kidnapping and killing. Another ex-MMA fighter, Ariel Gandulla, is also charged with murder but is living openly in Canada, which has yet to agree to extradite him.

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Manuel Marin, former owner of Presidente Supermarket, and his son Yaddiel Marin, owner of The Pincho Factory C.M. GUERRERO

Manuel Marin was arrested at the U.S. Embassy in August, several months after the Miami Herald first reported on the allegations against him. He was extradited to Miami in November and is now jailed awaiting trial.

Before Marin was implicated in the murder, Presidente Supermarkets listed him as a co-founder of the fast-growing chain that caters to Hispanic customers. The chain has since downplayed his role, saying he merely owned a few stores.

But according to the lawsuit, Marin was a key part of the Presidente chain. “At the time of the murder, Marin was the vice president and part owner of Presidente Supermarket Inc., and related companies,” the suit said.

According to the suit:

One week before the murder, Marin opened up a joint bank account with his son, Yaddiel, depositing a “substantial amount of money.” At the same time, Marin gave Yaddiel his ownership in a $14 million Palm Island mansion; the other half of the property was owned by Maria Marin, his first wife.

Yaddiel, described as a “25-year-old college dropout,” got legal power over his dad’s affairs and became vice president of the Presidente Supermarket chain. He also sold the Palm Island property, using the proceeds to buy a $7 million home on Pine Tree Drive in Miami Beach.

Maria Marin “frequently travels outside the United States” and returns with gifts for Marin’s kids from his second marriage to Jenny. The gifts have been “selected and paid for by Marin,” according to the suit. And while living in Madrid, Marin frequently withdrew cash from the joint bank account he had with his son.

Yaddiel, who was an investor in the Pincho Factory and PokeBao restaurant chains, is not implicated in the murder itself. He is, however, charged criminally with accessory after the fact.

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