Chilling video shows Cuban slated for deportation murder man in Miami, cops say
The reputed Miami gang member accused of murdering an associate on stunningly clear surveillance video now faces the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutors on Friday announced they would be seeking to execute David Paneque, 29, who is charged with the killing of 31-year-old Leandro Lopez. A grand jury on Wednesday indicted Paneque for first-degree murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Lopez was gunned down in March atop a parking garage in West Miami-Dade; surveillance footage showed that Lopez begged for his life before Paneque gunned him down, took something off of his body and drove off in a truck, prosecutors say.
Paneque did not appear for Friday’s court appearance. He pleaded not guilty, through his defense attorney. Lopez’s family and supporters were in the gallery wearing shirts with the slain man’s photo.
Detectives are unsure of a motive, but the two men had spent the night drinking at strip clubs.
At the time of the killing, Paneque was on probation after he served 10 years in prison for stabbing a man during an armed robbery. Born in Cuba, Paneque had been ordered deported because of his criminal conviction.
Even under renewed diplomatic relations established under former President Barack Obama, the island accepts back relatively few of its criminal citizens. Deportations to Cuba have risen under the aggressive policies pursued by President Donald Trump but still number only in the hundreds.
More than 37,000 Cubans in the United States are facing orders of removal for convictions of crimes or immigration violations. Most of those are living freely under orders of supervision, which require them to check in at least once a year.
Cubans were rarely ever deported in the years before diplomatic relations resumed in 2015 under Obama. Even now, the country is considered “recalcitrant” and will not accept back most of its nationals.