Four and a half years after viciously attacking two men outside a restroom in Lummus Park during Miami Beach Pride on April 8, 2018, the four men charged have all pleaded guilty.
Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, Juan Carlos Lopez, Adonis David Diaz, and Luis Manuel Alonso-Piovet all pleaded guilty to two counts of battery with prejudice, which are second-degree felonies. Alonso-Piovet also pleaded guilty to assault with prejudice on religious or institutional grounds, a misdemeanor.
So what does a plea deal look like for these men? They could have faced 15 years in prison, but instead, only one received jail time and that was time served. So what did they get for a sentence with their plea deal?
The court is withholding adjudication and sentencing them to:
- five years probation,
- 200 hours of community service,
- anger management,
- mental and substance abuse evaluations and any recommended treatments,
- must all stay away from the victims,
- Diaz was received a sentence of 37 days in jail, which he has already served,
- required to apologize to the victims in court, which all four did on the spot.
Alonso-Piovet said “I was raised in a family that [inaudible] violence and to turn the other cheek. I wish we had acted in a different way and offered my sincere apology to both [victims].” Lopez said. “I want to offer my sincere apologies to Rene Chalarca and Dimitry Logunov. My actions that day do not define who I am or how I was raised. It was never my intention to hurt them. My wish is that everyone involved can move past and take the lessons.”
Does the punishment fit the crime? Are we to judge if it is the write sentencing? If you were a victim of this crime, would this be enough? Both victims, Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov were there and signed off on the plea agreement.
The victims, who were hospitalized after the 2018 attack in South Beach, showed the four men compassion. Lugonov wrote a letter that a prosecutor read in court to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan.
“I am taking a chance to rebuild my life and I believe these young men have that chance too,” Lugonov wrote. Also in the statement, which was read on their behalf, he states:
“It’s been almost five years. Almost half of my time living in the United States. I’m dealing with the fears of being myself, the reason I left my home country.”
They expressed hope that the four men will use their second chance to get their lives on track and learn from this.
Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan gave them the benefit of the doubt, saying she doesn’t know if the defendants set out that day to do violence, or if it was a poor decision on the spot, saying, “Actions have consequences and whether you intended those consequences or not, all of you can see how actions taken have consequences that have offended the community in South Florida tremendously.”
Why did this guilty plea take so long? And what were they guilty of finally? It wasn’t a hate crime, which we ALL knew it was.
Their defense attorneys delayed the case for more than four and a half years by filing motions, taking depositions, and other legal tactics. Often by doing this, the hope is that witnesses start to forget details.
The most brazen attempt to get them off the legal hook came earlier this year when they tried to use a “Stand Your Ground” defense, essentially saying the victims were to blame for the confrontation. However, there is a clear surveillance video that shows that wasn’t the case, and Judge Fajardo Orshan dismissed the defense.
One point that was never brought up outright during the hearing was the homophobic and gay-bashing angle of the case. While the charges do address the attack was done with “prejudice,” nothing was said on behalf of the LGBT community.
The judge and prosecution were ready to seat a jury and go to trial today, which may have facilitated the timing of reaching the plea deal.
There is an end, is it the right end, is the end the victims needed, deserved, is this sentence like the trial, a run-on issue with no possible ending in sight? And that is maybe why it was all ended, just to have an end.
What are your thoughts? Justice served?
Here is local coverage of this case and the results.