Murder Plot Indicated by Texts, Web Postings

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Miami, FL—Four men who planned and executed a murder—but who are alleged to have killed the wrong man—are now detained in Broward County, Florida and will face charges of first degree premeditated murder and attempted murder.

Police say that an argument over an ex-girlfriend precipitated the murder plot, which escalated after threats were made on social networking websites and via text messages. Angel Cruz, 23; his brother Christopher Harter, 29; Peter MacDonald, 18; and Lernio Colin, 20 have appeared before a Fort Lauderdale judge and are being held without bond, say state prosecutors.

None of the men have entered a plea.

According to authorities, the men “jumped” three others early in the evening, Saturday, April 18th. These three men, Tony Santana, Nick Pappas and Henry Mancilla, escaped the scene in a red Chevy Impala.

Later, the three were sitting in a gold Mitsubishi Galant which was stopped at an intersection, when a blue Chevy Silverado pickup truck drove toward them. An affidavit released by law enforcement officials said that the Silverado belonged to Cruz, one of the defendants. The three victims say they armed themselves with a cane and some baseball bats, when the truck began heading toward them.

Shots were then fired, and Mancilla, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of the Galant, was killed. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Some reports allege that Mancilla was not the intended victim, but was merely “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Mike Jachles. “It could have been a case of mistaken identity, but our investigation will determine that.”

Police are still issuing search warrants, and have not released very much information about the case. They say that Cruz and the other defendants sent text messages via cellphone, and posted notes on social networking sites, informing the intended victim of their intent to harm him. Police have not yet revealed whether Santana or Pappas were the target of the murder plot, nor have they subpoenaed internet or cellular telephone records in order to analyze the threatening messages. Neither have they released the names of the internet sites that were used to send the messages. The most popular social networking sites include MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.

If tried and convicted, the men could face the death penalty.

 

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