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A Florida man will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to killing his 3-year-old daughter and trying to kill his 12-year-old daughter, according to the State Attorney’s Office of Brevard and Seminole Counties.
A judge accepted Juan Bravo-Torres’ guilty plea on Wednesday and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder, and 30 years in prison for attempted murder. The guilty plea is in exchange for the state waiving the death penalty.
The 39-year-old was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree attempted murder on July 21, 2022, according to the Longwood Police Department. Officers said Bravo-Torres attacked his daughters Eva, 3, and Alina, 12, with a knife at his home on Highland Street just north of Orlando, around 5:30 a.m.
Police said Alina told them she woke up to find her father attacking her with the knife, according to Law and Crime. He sliced her throat, then went to get another knife, according to officers. Alina told officers she was able to get out of her room and found her sister on the hallway floor.
“The victim stated her dad came at her with a knife but that she fought him back and eventually acted as if she was dead in hopes he would stop attacking her,” police said to Law and Crime. “The victim stated that after she played dead, her father dragged her and her little sister into the hall bathroom. The victim stated her dad turned off the lights in the bathroom but that she witnessed him cut his wrists and heard what sounded like he was cutting his throat.”
Alina was critically injured but told officers she waited until her father fell unconscious before she took the knife for protection and was able to walk for about a mile to the McDonald’s where her mother worked, officers said. When police went to the home, in the bathroom they found Eva dead and Bravo-Torres with multiple self-inflicted stab wounds. He was hospitalized, and later arrested.
The only eyewitness to the gruesome murder was Alina, who would have been asked to testify at the trial, according to the State Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors discussed the plea deal with Nereida Herrera-Martinez, Alina’s mother.
“She expressed the incredible difficulty the family has had in attempting to cope with the tragic loss of Eva, and her concerns over the emotional impact and psychological trauma on her daughter if asked to testify in the case. It was her and Alina’s great desire that the State accept the plea offer and not continue to seek the death penalty,” according to a statement from the State Attorney’s Office.
The state attorney believed the brutal killing was deserving of a death penalty option.
“However, in reaching this difficult decision we placed great weight on the desire of the mother to consider the potential trauma a trial would impose on her daughter,” State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statement. “We will vigorously contest any effort to parole, pardon or release Bravo-Torres prior to his death in state prison, should it ever arise.”
Records show Bravo-Torres was arrested in 2011 for domestic violence, according to Orlando’s Spectrum News.
As he pleaded guilty on Wednesday, Bravo-Torres said he killed his daughter and tried to kill the other because he felt his family was falling apart, according to Orlando NBC station WESH. He told the court he first was going to take his own life, after becoming aware his wife had a relationship with someone else, and then decided he did not want his children to be with another man.
“The mother of my children wanted another family, did not want us,” Bravo-Torres said during the court appearance, according to WESH. “I’ve always been very jealous.”
During the hearing, Bravo-Torres’ defense attorney shared a different series of events than police, alleging Bravo-Torres was in the bathroom slashing his wrists when his daughter came in, and he slashed her and her sister’s throats, according to WESH.
“I don’t hate him, but I’m mad,” Nereida Herrera-Martinez, the mother of the girls, said, according to WESH.
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