Crime

No bail for Canadian teen charged in Miami murder case

Marc Wabafiyebazu looks at a photo of his brother after being denied bail on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. The son of Canada’s consul general in Miami, 15-year-old Marc is charged in connection with the marijuana rip-off that ended a gunfight and the death of his older brother, Jean.
Marc Wabafiyebazu looks at a photo of his brother after being denied bail on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. The son of Canada’s consul general in Miami, 15-year-old Marc is charged in connection with the marijuana rip-off that ended a gunfight and the death of his older brother, Jean. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A Canadian diplomat’s teenage son will remain jailed after a judge refused to grant him bail for his role in the Miami marijuana rip-off that claimed the life of his older brother.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler on Wednesday said she was “loath” to allow 15-year-old Marc Wabafiyebazu to return to the custody of his mother, Canada’s consul general in Miami.

Pooler said his mother had shown she did not keep proper tabs on Marc and his older brother during their short time in Miami. And Canada does not have the same felony murder law that Marc is being prosecuted under in Florida, making possible extradition a tough sell.

“It seems highly unlikely were Mr. Wabafiyebazu to flee to Canada — where his mother has family, and his father lives — the United States would be able to bring him back,” Pooler said.

Pooler ruled Wednesday morning after two days of hearings last week.

“We’re disappointed but we respect the court,” said Marc’s defense attorney, Curt Obront. “We still have complete confidence and faith in the criminal justice system. We continue to have faith in our case, our client and our defense.”

Miami-Dade prosecutors say Marc acted as a lookout or a getaway driver for his older brother during the attempted armed robbery inside a small Coral Way-area apartment on March 30.

His brother, 18-year-old Jean Wabafiyebazu, got into a gunfight with 17-year-old drug dealer Joshua Wright over the two pounds of marijuana. Both teens were shot to death. Two other suspected drug dealers were wounded and also arrested.

Until February, Marc and Jean had lived with their mother, Roxanne Dubé, in Canada until moving to South Florida. The veteran Canadian diplomat is now on leave from her role as the consul general.

Marc is charged with felony murder for allegedly participating in the attempted armed robbery that led to the shootings deaths. His defense lawyers say Marc was only tagging along with his “troubled” sibling, never entering the apartment before the carnage unfolded.

During a bail hearing last week, Dubé testified that Marc was a reserved student with a learning disability who was heavily influenced by his older brother. As for prosecutors, last week they methodically laid out their evidence, including testimony from Miami Police Officer Juan Velez. The newbie cop was transporting Marc to a juvenile detention center when he said the teen admitted that he and his brother had planned the robbery and that they had done similar crimes before.

On Wednesday, Pooler said she found Velez’s testimony “very credible.” Although Pooler ruled that prosecutors had enough evidence to keep Marc behind bars, the judge could have still granted bail.

But Pooler expressed doubts about Dubé’s ability to keep track of her son. Last week, Dubé admitted she had no idea how her older son had gotten thousands of dollars to buy marijuana and somehow acquired two pistols.

The day of the shootout, Dubé allowed the brothers — who claimed they were going to a bookstore and to see a movie — to skip school and take her BMW with diplomatic license plates.

“What impressed me — or what did not impress me — was that she was irresponsible enough to allow an 18-year-old teen to drive her car with consular plates,” Pooler said.

Dubé had promised that Marc would not flee to Canada and that her ex-husband could fly in from Ottawa to watch the teen if she had to travel for work. But the judge said she had no confidence in Marc’s father, and she noted that Marc could easily slip over the border without a passport.

A jury trial is set for July, although most likely the proceedings will be delayed to give the defense more time to prepare. After the hearing, attorneys met privately with Marc in the court’s jury room.

The tall, baby-faced teen, shackled in a brown jail jumpsuit, emerged holding a printed-out photo of him and his brother. Marc hung his head low, studying the photo intently before corrections officers led him back to a jail cell.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments