Muriel, Faella trials delayed
By Ken Jackson
The trial of the suspected getaway driver in the murder of a Poinciana man during the July 4 holiday had the start of his trial postponed Tuesday.
Attorneys for Juan Sebastian Muriel, who police allege drove three others to Eric Roopnarine’s home on Mendoza Lane, asked for an received a continuance to the week of Oct. 28, a week later than scheduled. Ninth Circuit Court Judge Jon B. Morgan granted the motion after Muriel’s defense filed a motion to compel discovery.
At the heart of the delay was access to texts and other communication, as well as surveillance video from a convenience store on Pleasant Hill Road, that had not been turned over/ But staff from the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office, said the video could be made readily available.
The texts, reportedly sent from Muriel to co-defendant Victoria Rios, may not be since they were sent through an application called Kik that does not leave a permanent record on the phone, the prosecution said. The application appeared to be deleted from the phone, meaning texts sent through the application would be gone as well.
Judge Morgan directed Muriel’s phone be made available to defense, as well as any passcodes needed to access its functions.
According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office report of the incident, Muriel, 21, drove Rios, 17, Konrad Schafer, 15, and David Damus, 21, to Roopnarine’s home in Schafer’s father’s SUV, then waited outside. Rios, who had reportedly contacted the victim earlier in the evening and arranged a rendezvous for sex, lured Roopnarine to the door. Schafer and Damus rushed in with the intent to rob the victim. The police report stated those two shot and stabbed him, with the firearm being the same that police allege Schafer used 10 days prior to shoot and kill 17-year-old David Guerrero in Kissimmee.
Roopnarine’s mother told police she left the home at 11 p.m. on July 3 and upon returning around 1:30 a.m. she found her son lying on the floor unresponsive. The medical examiner’s office indicated Roopnarine, 22, died from a gunshot wound.
Also in Morgan’s courtroom Monday, defense attorneys for Marcus Faella got his trial for forming and leading a hate-group pushed back two weeks to Nov. 4, cited a motion coming from new evidence entered into discovery.
Sheriff’s investigators said Faella, a reported member of the American Front white supremacy group described in court documents as a “militia-styled, ant-Semitic, white supremacist, skinhead organization,” was training his group on a compound he lived with his wife, Patricia, at in a desolate area of far eastern Osceola County near the Brevard County line.
State prosecutors have since dropped the charge of participation in paramilitary training and added a charge of directing the activities of a gang.
In May 2012, he was among a dozen American Front members arrested on charges ranging from participating in paramilitary training, attempted criminal conspiracy and intent to commit a hate crime. Since those arrests, charges were dropped against 10 of the named, including Patricia Faella.