Thursday, August 9, 2007
Sentinel Staff Writer
August 9, 2007
A jury Wednesday night convicted a former St. Cloud man of kidnapping and murdering Wilfredo "Big Wil" Rivera, an Orlando-area hip-hop music producer who was beaten and shot to death in Fern Park four years ago.
Jorge A. Robles, 38, faces only one possible sentence: life in prison without parole. Circuit Judge Marlene Alva will pronounce the sentence Sept. 19.
Jurors deliberated two hours before finding Robles guilty. They also convicted him of kidnapping a second man who was with the victim that night, co-worker Michael Wayne Madison.
Madison told jurors that just before midnight March 8, 2003, he and Rivera were jumped at a Fern Park recording studio where they worked.
He said Robles pulled a gun and ordered him inside the building, while another assailant did the same with Rivera. Madison said that as he lay on the floor, he heard Robles demand that Rivera pay off a debt.
Madison said he heard Rivera being beaten, then shot.
Rivera, who owned Max-A-Million Records in Orlando, was wounded in the right shoulder and died at a hospital two days later.
Assistant State Attorney Gino Feliciani said Robles was one of three assailants that night. The other two remain at large.
Madison said he did not see which man shot Rivera.
Defense attorney Clint Johnson told jurors that based on that, they must acquit.
"There are a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle," he said.
But Feliciani argued that under the state's felony-murder law, all three assailants were equally guilty of murder because they took part in the abduction.
"That's the law," Feliciani said.
Robles didn't come to trial for four years because he fled to New York, then Colombia, the Dominican Republic and finally Puerto Rico. He was arrested earlier this year.
Rene Stutzman can be reached at email@example.com or 407-324-7294.