Juries in a joint trial for the 2020 shooting death of a 17-year-old boy reached two different verdicts Friday.
Jacob Maldonado, 19, was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery with a firearm for the killing of 17-year-old Julio Munoz in a drug deal gone wrong, court records show. David Consuegra Jr., 24, was found not guilty on these same charges.
The verdicts came following a four-day joint trial presided over by Circuit Court Judge Frederick Mercurio at the Manatee County Judicial Center in downtown Bradenton.
Maldonado will be sentenced at a later date, according to court records.
Consuegra and Jacob Maldonado were two of four suspects arrested after the fatal Myakka City shooting, alongside Jacob’s brother, 24-year-old Hugo Maldonado, who was convicted of the killing alongside 18-year-old Damian Ortiz during a joint jury trial in September.
Hugo Maldonado was sentenced in September to life in prison for murder with 15 years concurrently for attempted robbery with a firearm for the killing, which was the maximum possible sentence for the charges.
Consuegra was the only one among the four suspects to be found not guilty.
Prosecutors say the shooting began as an attempted robbery for THC edibles and marijuana at Verna Bethany Road and State Road 64 East at around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 29, 2020.
The robbery gone wrong left 17-year-old Munoz dead and a 15-year-old injured.
The 15-year-old, who was flown to Tampa General Hospital, survived the shooting and provided key evidence in the case.
Sinohe Adan, now 18 years old, appeared Wednesday as the State’s star witness. He recalled how it all started with a Snapchat message from a name he didn’t recognize.
The name was Damian Ortiz, he said. The message asked if Adan had any marijuana.
Aadan said he responded that he didn’t have any, but he knew someone who did: Munoz.
That began a chain of events that would end up with his friend dead, he said.
The two, with a fanny pack full of THC gummy edibles, marijuana leaf and marijuana vape cartridges, hopped into Munoz’s white Honda Civic that November night and drove to the intersection to meet Ortiz.
When they got there, Adan said, Ortiz was leaning on a Chevy Malibu and approached Adan’s window to discuss a drug deal.
But a few seconds later, Adan said, another person emerged from behind Ortiz with a sawed-off shotgun demanding he and Munoz give him everything.
Adan said Munoz stepped on the gas to try and get away and that’s when the person fired shots into the car, fatally striking Munoz.
The Chevy Malibu fled after the shooting, Adan said.
Adan pulled his friend out of the car and tried to begin chest compressions while calling 911 to report the shooting.
Munoz died at the scene. Medical Examiner Wilson Broussard said Munoz was likely instantly paralyzed and lost consciousness after suffering a large gunshot wound to the base of his neck.
Much of the state’s case hinged on Adan’s testimony, leading the defense to point out inconsistencies in his story.
Adan told the court that shortly after calling 911 he hid the drugs in the woods nearby.
He also told officers when they first arrived on the scene that the shooting was a drive-by done by a black and Hispanic man.
When questioned under cross-examination by Jacob Maldonado’s defense attorney, Connie Mederos-Jacobs, Adan said he told the story because he was worried about law enforcement finding out he was involved in a drug deal.
“It was a scenario I made up because I was just scared,” Adan said.
The defense also pointed out under cross-examination with Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Hurly Smith that Smith said Adan didn’t seem upset after the shooting and kept taking photos repeatedly at the scene despite being asked to stop using his phone.
Mederos-Jacobs repeatedly painted Adan as an unreliable witness during closing arguments and said that her client, Maldonado, was “not guilty by association.”
But Adan’s phone would become a key piece of evidence in the case. The drugs were found by detectives in the woods shortly after the shooting, and Adan told them about the drug deal gone wrong. He also handed over his phone to authorities, who were able to find the Snapchat messages.
The Snapchat messages as well as his phone log led the sheriff’s office to Ortiz and eventually the other three, according to Sgt. Daniel Dickerman, who was the lead investigator on the case.
Additional phone evidence played a role in the state’s case. A video of Ortiz with a sawed-off shotgun and an assault rifle in what prosecutors say was Hugo Maldonado’s car was played for the court Wednesday.
Prosecutors say the video was taken at 10:11 p.m., less than 20 minutes before the shooting.
No weapons were ever recovered in the case, but shotgun pellets and jacketed shells, which do not come from shotguns, were found in Munoz’s back during the autopsy, which prosecutors said points to two different guns being used.
There was a debate between the state and defense throughout the trial about who the shooter was. Adan initially identified the shooter as a darker man with a bushy beard.
Consuegra’s defense attorney Eric Reisinger pointed out multiple times throughout the trial that Hugo Maldonado was the only one with a “bushy beard” at the time.
But both defendants said Hugo Maldonado was the driver and Adan said he never saw the driver’s side door open the night of the shooting.
Court records show Hugo Maldonado filed a notice of appeal in September and is asking for a new trial.
Damian Ortiz is scheduled to be sentenced on at 9 a.m. Feb. 23., according to court records.