Prosecution rests; Suspect testifies he last saw Christian Aguilar alive

By Jason Dearen, Associated Press
Published On: Aug 14 2014 12:07:50 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 14 2014 06:21:54 PM EDT

Pablo Bravo testifies in his own defense Thursday in his murder trial.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -

Taking the stand in his own murder trial on Thursday, Pedro Bravo said University of Florida student Christian Aguilar was still alive the last time he saw him.
    
Bravo took the stand shortly after the prosecution rested its murder case against him. He faces murder, kidnapping and other charges related to the slaying of Aguilar, 20, in September 2012.

At many times smiling and looking at jurors while he described his own disturbing suicidal thoughts, the 20-year-old from Miami said he was "breaking apart piece by piece" when he and Aguilar got together to talk about Bravo's depression.
    
"I have scars both on my neck and wrists from near attempts in moments where I was pushed to the edge," he told jurors about his lifetime of suicidal thoughts.
    
Prosecutors have painted a picture of Bravo as a jealous ex-boyfriend who followed his ex, Erika Friman, to Gainesville to win her back, only to find she was dating Aguilar.
    
Bravo said he came to Gainesville seeking a fresh start.
    
"I wanted to go to Gainesville ... maybe a fresh start would help me erase everything in my slate," he said. "And at the same time I wanted to see if I could get back together with Erika."
    
After learning that Friman and Aguilar, both of whom he had attended high school with in Miami, were dating, Bravo requested a meeting with Aguilar to talk it out.
    
Aguilar's remains were discovered weeks after the men's talk, buried in a shallow grave in a wooded area.
    
"I'm suicidal," Bravo said about why he wanted to talk to his friend, Aguilar. "It's not because of Erika but all these other things that are adding up."
    
Bravo and Aguilar went to a fast food restaurant and an electronics store before stopping for about two hours in a Walmart parking lot.
    
Prosecutors say that's where Bravo used a strap to strangle Aguilar -- Bravo said he and his friend got into a heated exchanges.
    
Bravo said they left the Walmart lot, but got into a physical fight while he was driving and he pulled over.
    
"He comes up and went for my head. I got mad and I pushed him ... I swept him off his feet," Bravo said. He said he fell on top of Aguilar and hit him in the face repeatedly.
    
"He didn't get up right away, but he was still moving."
    
Bravo said he left Aguilar there on the ground, and never saw him again.
    
Later that night, he said he drank a bottle of Gatorade mixed with sleeping pills and pesticide in an effort to kill himself.
    
That Gatorade bottle with drug residue was found in his car, and prosecutors have suggested he used it to drug Aguilar before strangling him.
    
Bravo said the concoction made him vomit.
    
"I took it as a sign from God that maybe it's not supposed to happen this way," he said.

A judge presiding over the trial told jurors to plan for deliberations to begin sometime Thursday.

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