On October 22, 1993, three masked gunmen invaded a home in Miami, Florida and terrorized three adults and four children for more than an hour, demanding money and other valuables.
The home’s owner, 40-year-old Domingo Aguiar, was tied up and his eyes were duct-taped shut. At one point, one of the gunmen poured wine on him and attempted to set him on fire. Finally, the gunmen left after disabling the telephone. They escaped with several hundred dollars, some jewelry, the family’s van and a rifle.
Police were summoned and the victims said they did not recognize any of the robbers. However, in fact, Aguiar and his wife, Rachel, later said they saw one of the robbers briefly lift up his mask and they recognized him as 24year-old Sergio Radillo, Jr., the son of a business acquaintance.
Aguiar told a private investigator his suspicion of Radillo’s involvement. After a month, the private investigator became convinced Radillo was one of the gunmen and notified police. When Aguiar and his wife viewed a photographic lineup, they identified Radillo, who had a prior conviction for third-degree murder for fatally stabbing a bouncer.
Radillo was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and multiple counts of armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary and aggravated assault.
Two other men also were charged, but the charges were later dismissed and they were never tried.
Radillo went on trial in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in March 1995. Domingo Aguiar identified Radillo as one of the gunmen. Aguiar’s wife, Rachel, said she wasn’t 100 percent sure Radillo was one of the gunmen, but she thought he was.
Radillo did not testify. His defense lawyer, through cross-examination, attempted to suggest that Radillo had been targeted because Aguiar owed Radillo’s father $10,000 from their business dealings. The real target, according to the defense attorney, was one of Aguiar’s relatives, who was responsible for the imprisonment of the brother of one of the other gunmen. Radillo’s attorney suggested through his questioning that a man named Orlando Borges was responsible for trying to seek revenge.
One witness testified for Radillo that on the day of the crime, he and Radillo had pawned a necklace for $300 and they spent the rest of the day and into the evening drinking and getting high. A second witness also gave that account, but his credibility was challenged after he admitted being so drunk his memory was questionable.
On March 15, 1995, the jury rejected the defense theory and convicted Radillo on all counts. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Radillo appealed and the convictions were upheld. In 1998, he took a polygraph test and the examiner said Radillo was truthful when he denied being involved in the crime. In October 1998, Radillo filed a motion for a new trial contending his trial lawyer had failed to call credible alibi witnesses and failed to fully investigate other suspects in the crime. A hearing was held and the motion was denied.
In 2004, Radillo’s father learned that another inmate, Orlando Borges—the man who had been suspected of being involved for more than a decade—had bragged about committing the robbery.
In exchange for immunity, Borges confessed to prosecutors that he had committed the robbery and Radillo was not involved.
In January 2005, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge, acting on a joint motion filed by the prosecution and defense, overturned Radillo’s conviction and granted him a new trial. Prosecutors dismissed the charges in March 2005.
In 2014, Radillo was convicted in Miami-Dade Circuit Court of burglary and stalking.
– Maurice Possley