The trial of Luis Alberto Toledo continues Wednesday in a Florida courtroom. Court is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. EST, and prosecutors expect to rest their case.
The state claims Toledo committed the second-degree murder of his wife Yessenia Suarez, and the first-degree murders of her 8-year-old son Michael Otto, and her 9-year-old daughter Thalia Otto. This defendant is also charged with tampering with physical evidence because he allegedly covered up the crime. He faces the death penalty if convicted in the children’s deaths.
The bodies were never found, but authorities indicted him based on other evidence. The Lake Mary Police Department said Toledo slapped Yessenia in the face on Oct. 22. She told cops they were thinking about ending their relationship, and he was angry over certain text messages on her phone. Toledo wanted to confront one of her co-workers, she said.
The next day, based on the prompting of Suarez’s mother, Volusia County sheriff’s deputies did a welfare check on her and her children. They discovered blood at the scene, and believed that it was scrubbed of evidence. A neighbor told them Toledo asked him for help that morning. This witness saw him wipe down Yessenia’s black Honda, and throw away items in a dumpster. Deputies also got in touch with Suarez’s co-worker. The man claimed he was her lover, and said he spoke with her over phone just after midnight on Oct. 23. They believe he was the last person to make contact with her.
Prosecutors argue that Toledo killed Suarez over the affair. They say Toledo admitted to cops that he “karate-chopped” Yessenia in the neck, causing her death. He killed the children to make sure there weren’t any witnesses, they said. The defense insists the state doesn’t have enough evidence. No bodies were found, and there are no witnesses, they say. In interview footage, Toledo blamed the kids’ deaths on a neighbor.
On Tuesday, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. A.J. Pagliari III testified that he didn’t believe Toledo’s claims about the neighbor.
Pagliari says #luistoledo‘s story began breaking down when he was told someone saw him driving his wife’s car & Toledo said it’s impossible
— Frank Fernandez (@frankfff) October 24, 2017
Toledo killed those kids himself, Pagliari said.
Jurors saw text messages in which the defendant and Yessenia argued over her affair. After the Oct. 22 incident at her work, Suarez told him that she was filing a restraining order against him, and was going to divorce him.
Volusia Sheriff’s Office investigator Bryan Ford testified about the search for the victims’ bodies. He said he heard Toledo tell Sgt. Kurt Schoeps that “I’m never going to tell you where the bodies are.”
Cassandra Gomez, a friend of the family, also took the stand. She testified to recognizing Thalia’s teddy bears, which were found in a dumpster.
Judge Raul Zambrano told jurors that deliberations may begin Friday.
Stay with LawNewz.com and the LawNewz Network for continuing coverage of the trial.