KEY WITNESS TESTIFIES IN WEST PALM BEACH DEATH PENALTY CASE

PALM BEACH POST, APRIL 16, 2011

By Susan Spencer-Wendel

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH —

A key witness in the death penalty case against Alfredo Sotelo-Gomez testified Wednesday about driving to the scene of 17-year-old Maciel Videla’s murder, watching as another man slit Videla’s throat.

“Only thing I heard him gurgling a bit,” said Juan Urdialez, flatly recounting Videla’s murder like he would a history lesson.

Urdialez testified he saw Sotelo-Gomez pin Videla’s arms behind his back while another man, Diego “Yogi” Nunez, slit his throat because they thought Videla was snitching to police about their drug dealing. Urdialez said he never reported anything to police, fearing what would happen to him.

“I was scared. I did not know what to do,” Urdialez said.

Both Sotelo-Gomez, 29, and Videla’s girlfriend Adriana Rodriguez, 20, are on trial, charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Prosecutors Andrew Slater and Jacqueline Charbonneau are seeking the death penalty for Sotelo-Gomez.

Rodriguez is accused of a lesser role in the murder, luring her boyfriend to the men who would drive away with him from the El Toro Loco bar and kill him in 2008.

Urdialez claims he did not know of their intent to kill the Greenacres teen, nor did he know where they were going.

Urdialez, who has worked as a security guard at the state tuberculosis hospital in Lantana, has never been arrested or charged in the murder – a point defense attorneys Nellie King and Joe Walsh plumbed at length Wednesday on cross-examination as some of the jurors raised their eyebrows.

Urdialez has said he followed directions given to him by Sotelo-Gomez on where to drive. Defense attorneys brought out on cross-examination that Urdialez’s aunt’s trailer is some 200 yards from the scene.

Urdialez identified for police another of the men allegedly at the scene of the murder, Julio Gomez, a friend he knew from the bars and had partied with that night.

Urdialez signed for a detective a photo of a Julio Gomez declaring “This is Julio who I witness involved in the murder.” It turned out it was a different Julio Gomez, jailed five months before his release.

Today, jurors are expected to hear statements to police by Sotelo-Gomez and Rodriguez, in which they implicated themselves to some degree.

Testimony is expected to continue into next week.