Three suspects in beat-down of Miami Beach man left behind a few clues

Alberto Valdes Mora, 21, Carlos Leiva, 19, and Bryan Alexander Catin, 19.
Alberto Valdes Mora, 21, Carlos Leiva, 19, and Bryan Alexander Catin, 19.

Three men made a much bigger mistake than crashing and abandoning their car in Miami Beach over the weekend. They beat a French citizen and left a set of brass knuckles on the ground in their rush to get away, police said.

But it was the decision to report the vehicle stolen that did them in on Wednesday. That’s when the BMW’s owner visited police about the vehicle and eventually confessed to the beatings during intense questioning, according to detectives.

A short time after being brought in for questioning, police said the other two men also confessed.

“Knowing you did something and trying to report the car stolen is pretty arrogant, because the detectives were on to that,” Miami Beach police spokeswoman Vivian Thayer said. “It’s sloppy.”

Arrested and charged with robbery with an armed weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery were Bryan Alexander Catin, 19, Carlos Leiva, 19, and Alberto Valdes Mora, 21. Bond for all three was set at $17,500.

All three were taken to the Turner Guilford Knight Jail in West Miami-Dade. Leiva and Catin live in Miami. Mora lives in Miami Gardens.

According to police and a witness account, shortly before 5 a.m. Jan. 15, a man walking home near 11th Street and Jefferson Avenue in Miami Beach watched as a white four-door BMW 328i went up and down Michigan Avenue, then made a U-turn at Lenox. The man told police he saw two men get out of the car, then heard someone screaming for help.

When the witness got to 11th Street and Jefferson, he saw Florent Garcia lying on the ground, “not moving and bleeding profusely from his facial area,” according to the police report. When police arrived, they found a pair of black brass knuckles on the ground near Garcia.

Thayer said DNA tests are being done on the weapon.

Garcia told police he was hit repeatedly before the men took off with his wallet and credit cards. Soon a call came into police that the BMW had crashed into another car two blocks away.

Police believe Leiva was driving the car owned by Catin. Police said when the airbags inflated after the crash, the car automatically locked down, and Leiva, the driver, couldn’t restart it. So the trio ran.

Garcia, 30, was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center with cuts on his face and body, and swollen and bruised eyes. He told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that he is French citizen now living in Miami Beach, and that he was considering plastic surgery to repair the damage done during the robbery.

Police said they have no reason to believe the robbery and beating were a hate crime. Thayer called it “an isolated incident. Just a robbery.”