A jury on Friday convicted a Miami man of strangling a University of Florida student in a fit of jealousy over a woman who had chosen the victim over him.
After a two-week trial, the jury in Gainesville convicted 20-year-old Pedro Bravo of first-degree murder and six other counts in the death of Christian Aguilar. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty and Bravo faces a mandatory life sentence.
Aguilar's parents and family were silent as the verdicts were read. They left the courtroom hugging and began crying outside. Bravo watched the clerk read the verdict with no reaction. He appeared calm.
Prosecutors argued that a jealous Bravo strangled Aguilar because the victim was dating a woman with whom Bravo was obsessed.
Aguilar went missing in September 2012 after he and Bravo spent hours together discussing Bravo's depression over his breakup with Erika Friman. Bravo pleaded not guilty, saying he and Aguilar got into a fist fight and that he left Aguilar alive.
Investigators found Aguilar's blood in Bravo's car and presented evidence that Bravo researched ways to drug people and dispose of bodies. Aguilar's body was found in the woods.
Aguilar and Bravo knew each other from their days at Doral Academy, a high school in Miami. Bravo had dated Friman, who was also a student, while at Doral, but she and Aguilar had begun dating when the two moved to Gainesville for college.
Prosecutors presented reams of writings by Bravo that showed he was obsessed with Friman, so much so that he decided not to attend Florida International University so he could move to Gainesville and pursue her.
But when he arrived, Bravo learned Friman had begun seeing Aguilar. Bravo told friends he was suicidal, but prosecutors presented evidence that he began planning Aguilar's killing.
Bravo bought what prosecutor's called a "murderer's starting pack" including a shovel, duct tape and enough sleeping drugs to knock someone out.
For days, Aguilar ducked Bravo's attempts to meet with him. But after a mutual friend approached him on Bravo's behalf, Aguilar reluctantly agreed in an effort to help with Bravo's depression. On September 20, the two spent hours together eating and buying a CD at Best Buy.
Prosecutors say the two men were in Bravo's SUV in a Wal-Mart parking lot when Bravo slipped into the backseat, grabbed a strap, and choked Aguilar to death.
Forensic analysis determined it took Aguilar 13 minutes to die -- his blood and DNA were found in Bravo's car.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Bravo said he and Aguilar fought, and that he left his friend lying injured on the ground. But Aguilar was still alive, Bravo said.
Two hunters found Aguilar's body buried in a shallow grave in the woods miles from Gainesville in a neighboring county.
Cellphone records placed Bravo in those woods, and showed that he used his iPhone's flashlight while there for nearly an hour.
Prosecutors also found the shovel Bravo bought hidden under a walking bridge at Bravo's apartment complex. Tests showed it contained the same rare mineral found at Aguilar's grave site.
Aguilar's remains showed that he'd been bound in duct tape that matched samples found in Bravo's car.
Bravo, who pleaded not guilty, also told detectives numerous stories about what happened -- changing his story every time police found new evidence.