OT - Miami boating death case goes to trial

interesting article regarding a criminal case where the captain throws a drunk and unruly passenger overboard and the passenger later dies. did the captain commit manslaughter? FYI, article is full of errors. fire away ...


Miami boating death case goes to trial


This is undisputed: After a day of July 4th revelry, Eulices Alvarez Barrios tossed a drunk passenger off his idle 32-foot boat into the busy Intracoastal Waterway.

But was it a crime?

Miami-Dade prosecutors think so, telling jurors Wednesday that Barrios was criminally reckless two years ago when he ejected Domingo Vilalta, who was then slashed to death by the propellers of another nearby vessel.

“He threw him overboard, like a piece of chum, like bait you would throw overboard when you’re fishing,” prosecutor Marie Mato told jurors during opening statements Wednesday.

Defense attorney Ed O’Donnell calls it a tragic accident.

Barrios, 39, threw a drunk and high Vilalta, 22, overboard after the young man inexplicably thrust the boat’s throttle, jerking the vessel forward. Vilalta’s actions causing one young woman to tumble overboard and the boat’s propellers nearly cut her and another woman “to ribbons,” O’Donnell said.

Barrios believed – as did everyone else in the group – that Vilalta had boarded the nearby boat that accompanied their group.

“He came very close to seriously mutilating two human beings or killing them, by his action, his inexcusable action,” O’Donnell said.

Barrios is charged with manslaughter and faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted.

The July 4th holiday in 2010 started out not unlike countless Miami holiday celebrations. Barrios, a general contractor, met some young women at his North Miami home, where he kept his boat docked alongside a canal.

Vilalta, whom he did not know, came along with the women. Barrios’ Stamas Express vessel left for a popular Intracoastal Waterway sandbar near Oleta State Park, where hundreds of revelers waded, drank and listened to music.

“His boat was a party boat. It has speakers hanging from top that provided the music,” Mato said. “And he provided the liquor. The alcohol was flowing. They were having a good time.”

At the sandbar, Alberto “Popeye” Rodriguez, a friend of Barrios,’ met up with the group in his own boat. The party continued throughout the afternoon, with participants drinking Grey Goose vodka and loudly singing karaoke through the boat’s speakers.

Vilalta was smoking marijuana. O’Donnell said that he was acting obnoxious, tugging on women’s bikinis, “trying to cop a feel.”

The group got hungry around 8 p.m. and agreed to motor over to the dockside Shuckers Bar & Grill in North Bay Village. En route, near North Miami’s Broad Causeway, Barrios put the boat in neutral to check something. A passenger, Lorena Rodriguez jumped in the water while the boat was stopped.

It was that moment that Vilalta got up and sat in the captain’s chair, thrusting the throttle forward. The lurch of the boat caused another passenger, Rosabel Machado, to pitch overboard and fall into the water. The propellers churned dangerously close to both women in the water.

Machado immediately swam over to Albert Rodriguez’s boat in front of her and was not hurt.

Both sides agree that Barrios sprang into action, shutting off the engines. He cursed at Vilalta, yelling “You could have cut her into a 100 pieces!” according to O’Donnell.

He hurled Vilalta in the water a few from the other boat – in an act that was “reasonable” because of the danger he posed, O’Donnell said.

Not so, said Mato.

“The victim was without a life vest and was not in a safe location,” she told jurors.

The defense says Barrios gestured to the other boat captain, Rodriguez, pointing to Vilalta to signal that he should be the one to take him on board. And at least one witness, a 12-year-old boy, told detectives that the all the passengers believed Vilalta had safely boarded the second boat.

One prosecution witness, passenger Gabriela Dimauro, 21, told jurors that in the confusion of the moment, she saw Vilalta saw clinging to the front of the second boat, a very dangerous spot.

“I didn’t think anyone was seeing what I was seeing,” said Dimauro, who admitted she though he boarded the other vessel safely.

Both boats cruised away before Dimauro realized Vilalta was not on either boat and she began to yell. Barrios and Rodriguez quickly turned around to search for him.

“We were screaming his name, going around and around, looking for him,” Machado said.

They called authorities.

Miami-Dade police, Coast Guard and state wildlife officers mounted a large-scale search.

His mangled body was found two days later floating near Haulover Park Marina.

Trial continues Thursday in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lisa Walsh.


Replies

  • Bottom LinesBottom Lines Posts: 1,104 Officer
    Not guilty.
  • snooknreds2snooknreds2 Posts: 514 Officer
    NOT guilty
    A lazy fisherman is a boater!!
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Miami jury? Who knows!
  • BigballerBigballer Posts: 26 Greenhorn
    I hope this guy has a good lawyer. I personally would not convict. The dead guy was a dip ***** and did put the 2 ladies in great danger because of his foolish act. I just don't know the legality of tossing someone overboard.
  • sk018sk018 Posts: 2,958 Captain
    Typical day in Miami it sounds like
  • snookyjsnookyj Posts: 1,687 Officer
    sk018 wrote: »
    Typical day in Miami it sounds like

    Yep...i work on the water...its a nightmare on the holiday weekends
  • MoganSlayaMoganSlaya Posts: 131 Officer
    Bigballer wrote: »
    I hope this guy has a good lawyer. I personally would not convict. The dead guy was a dip ***** and did put the 2 ladies in great danger because of his foolish act. I just don't know the legality of tossing someone overboard.


    Really? U don't know the legality of throwing a drunk guy overboard in a high traffic waterway? But the guy was being a dip***** so he deserved it right? Wow man, the legality is exactly **** he's being charged with. As a result of HIS [email protected] decision to throw that drunk yound dip chiiit in the water, it in turn put that mans life in danger, and as a result of HIS action, the yound dipchiiit was killed...that constitutes manslaughter.


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  • BigballerBigballer Posts: 26 Greenhorn
    Having a bad day? I never said he deserved being tossed over. AND, everyone thought the other boat had picked him up. It's not like they intentionally left him in the water to be made into chum. Put yourself in the position of the captain and it was your daughter or wife that almost got chopped up because if this drunk idiot. It is an interesting case and like I said before, I would not convict.
  • SouthFloridaAnglerSouthFloridaAngler Posts: 3,164 Captain
    My wife's friend is prosecuting this case. I thought for sure the "captain" was guilty when hearing about it the first time. Now I'm not so sure. Miami jury's are usually pro defense though because most jurors are some sort of criminal themselves. I say he gets off on this one.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,665 Captain
    My wife's friend is prosecuting this case. I thought for sure the "captain" was guilty when hearing about it the first time. Now I'm not so sure. Miami jury's are usually pro defense though because most jurors are some sort of criminal themselves. I say he gets off on this one.

    legally, there is no justifiable reason for throwing him in the water; he could have called marine patrol, he could have kicked the **** out of him and he could have done many other things but throwing him in the water at dusk was not a good legal option.

    regardless, i tend to agree that you never know what a jury might do; the render verdicts against the law all of the time.


  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,665 Captain
    captain was found not guilty.


    Jury acquits North Miami man in boating manslaughter case


    A North Miami man committed no crime when he hurled a drunk-and-high passenger off a boat to his doom in the waters of Biscayne Bay, jurors decided Tuesday night.

    Eulices Barrios, 39, was not guilty of manslaughter by culpable negligence in the July 4, 2010 death of Domingo Vilalata, who was shredded to death by the propellers of a nearby boat.

    His body surfaced two days later.

    Tuesday’s verdict concluded a unique and legally thorny case in a South Florida community rich in boating culture.

    “This was a tragedy all around, but Eulices committed not crime and he should have never been charged,” said defense attorney Ed O'Donnell IV, who tried the case with his father of the same name.

    Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on many of the details of the tragedy.

    Barrios, a general contractor, had taken several people out on his 32-foot Stamas Express. The group, which included Vilalta and several young women, spent all afternoon drinking vodka and singing karaoke at a popular party sandbar in the Intracoastal Waterway near Oleta State Park.

    Vilalta was drunk and smoked pot. Several of the girls also drank heavily.

    Around 8 p.m., they were cruising to a dockside restaurant in North Bay Village when Barrios stopped the vessel in a busy waterway to fix some equipment, as one young woman jumped in the water.

    Vilalta, 22, who was a friend of the women onboard, inexplicably sat in the captain’s seat and thrust the boat’s throttle, jerking the vessel forward. Another passenger tumbled overboard, falling in the waters near the boat’s churning propellers.

    An angry Barrios rushed to shut off the engine and hurled Vilalta off the boat.

    The question before jurors was whether that act was unreasonable.

    “There were options,” said Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Chiaka Ihekwaba. She told jurors that Barrios could have confined the drunk man to the boat’s cabin, or even tied him up with rope to subdue him until they reached dry land.

    But defense attorney Ed O’Donnell said Vilalta was a danger, nearly killing the two women in the water.

    “Is it reasonable to say, ‘You’re off the boat, pal?’ I think so,” O’Donnell told jurors.

    Much of the legal scrutiny at trial focused on Barrios’ perceptions – and the moments after Vilalta hit the water.

    One young woman in the water swam to another nearby boat belonging to Barrios’ pal, Alberto Rodriguez.

    Barrios claimed he signaled to Rodriguez to take on Vilalta, but Rodriguez testified that he never saw or heard Barrios.

    One boat passenger said she saw Vilalta clinging to a metal clip, used for towing, affixed to the boat’s bow. Barrios saw that too, but later told detectives he believed the man had boarded the second boat safely.

    Prosecutor Marie Mato pointed out that Barrios told police, “I really didn’t pay attention and I left,” leaving Vilalta hanging on a dangerous spot where he was ultimately sucked under the boat and killed

    “Was it OK for the defendant to turn his back the minute he saw him there?” Mato asked. “Or should he have waited to make sure he got on safely?”

    But O’Donnell insisted the case belonged in civil court as part of a lawsuit. He also suggested that Vilalta’s boorish behavior – pushing the boat throttle – played a role in his death.

    “Maybe he thought it was funny. There wasn’t anything funny about it,” O’Donnell said. “If he hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t be here today.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/04/2984299/closing-arguments-in-miami-boating.html#storylink=cpy


  • BigballerBigballer Posts: 26 Greenhorn
    Very interesting case.
    The channel 10 website said that the defense successfully argued the fact that the defendant had no obligation to make sure the drunk guy got on the other boat safely.
  • SouthFloridaAnglerSouthFloridaAngler Posts: 3,164 Captain
    Told ya. You have to be caught on video killing someone to get convicted here. Miami jurors are idiots.
  • sflskiersflskier Posts: 81 Greenhorn
    Ultimately the captain is responsible for everything that happens on the boat. The drunk guy should have never been allowed at the helm of the boat with the motor running. The captain allowed him to take the helm and this resulted in the women to almost get chopped up. Had that happened, the captain would have been responsible for those deaths. IMHO.
    SFLSkier
    2012 Sailfish 2380
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • CaptbrettCaptbrett Posts: 9 Greenhorn
    I was on scene and part of the SAR looking for that guy i never knew it was like that
    AKA Flatsborkefish'n
  • Angler_2600Angler_2600 Posts: 1,104 Officer
    Wow Inecredible! Should have been guilty!!! Simply shocked- he wouldn't have died, if he would had never been thrown into the water! SMH
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