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Guillermo Octavio ARBELAEZ





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Revenge
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 14, 1988
Date of arrest: April 11, 1988
Date of birth: August 29, 1957
Victim profile: Julio Rivas (male, 5)
Method of murder: Arbelaez took the boy by the arms and threw him over the side of the 70 ft high bridge
Location: Dade County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on March 14, 1991

Florida Supreme Court


Guillermo Arbelaez, Appellant, vs. State of Florida, Appellee. 626 So. 2d 169

opinion initial brief of appellant
supplemental brief of appellant on sentencing hearing
brief of appellee reply brief of appellant

DC#  122079
DOB:  08/29/57

Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Case #88-5546
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Allen Kornblum
Trial Attorney: Reemberto Diaz – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Reemberto Diaz – Private
Attorneys, Collateral Appeal: Todd Scher – CCRC-S

Date of Offense: 02/14/88

Date of Sentence: 03/14/91

Circumstances of Offense:

Guillermo Arbelaez was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of five-year-old Julio Rivas on 02/14/88.

Arbelaez met Graciela Alfara, the victim’s mother, at a cafeteria where she worked as a waitress.  After some time, Arbelaez moved in with Alfara, paying $150 a month for a room that he was to share with Alfara’s 19 year-old cousin. 

Arbelaez and Alfara became intimate soon after he moved in, but the relationship abruptly ended when Alfara accused him of touching one of her daughters inappropriately.  Alfara ordered the defendant to move out by 02/15/88.

According to Arbelaez, he and Alfara were still in a relationship at that time, and were supposed to be married on 02/15/88.  On 02/13/88, however, Alfara came home late with another man, and Arbelaez witnessed her kiss that man goodnight.

The next morning, while Alfara slept, Arbelaez took her son, Julio Rivas, from the home.  Arbelaez stopped for a coffee at Alfara’s place of employment, and witnesses reported that he seemed calm and normal.  There, Arbelaez spoke with an acquaintance telling him of Alfara’s infidelity and that he was going to do something so that she would never forget him.

After leaving the cafeteria, Arbelaez drove to the top of the Powell Bridge where he pulled over and raised the hood of his car to make it look like he had broken down.  Next, Arbelaez took the boy by the arms and threw him over the side of the 70 ft high bridge.  The defendant quickly left the scene, abandoned his car in a neighboring area, and fled to the home of his friend Pedro Salazar.  Arbelaez confessed to Salazar, stating that he wanted revenge against Alfara.

Arbelaez flew to Puerto Rico, and again to his home in Colombia, where Miami detectives tracked him down on 03/16/88.  On 04/11/88, he was arrested at Miami International Airport as soon as he cleared customs.

During his trial, a medical examiner testified that Julio Rivas died from strangulation as well as drowning.  The boy’s head had many abrasions and his body showed many large bruises.  The medical examiner determined that these wounds were inflicted before he died.  Alfara testified that her son did not have the bruises and abrasions on the morning he was kidnapped.

Additional Information:

Through cooperation with the detectives, with the American Embassy, and with Colombian passport officials, Arbelaez returned to the United States on his own volition on 04/11/88.

Trial Summary:

02/18/88          Warrant issued for the arrest of the Defendant.

04/11/88          Defendant arrested.

04/27/89          Defendant indicted on:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Kidnapping

02/19/91          The jury found the Defendant guilty on both counts.

03/04/91          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 11 to 1 majority, voted for the death penalty.

03/14/91          The Defendant was sentenced as followed:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          Kidnapping – Life

Case Information:

On 04/03/91, Guillermo Arbelaez filed a direct appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.  Among the issues raised in that appeal were:  the denial of his Motion to Suppress the statements that he made in Colombia and Miami, the denial of his Motion for a Mistrial due to an emotional outburst by the victim’s mother, the application of a couple of statutory aggravating factors and the failure to apply his mental disturbance as a mitigating factor.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of death on 09/23/93.  The mandate was issued on 12/17/93.

On 01/11/94, the defendant filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.  That petition was denied on 05/23/94.

Arbelaez filed a 3.850 Motion in the Circuit Court of Dade County on 08/15/95, which was denied on 10/18/96.

Arbelaez then filed an Appeal of his 3.850 Motion in the Florida Supreme Court on 11/20/96.  The case was remanded to the trial court on 07/13/00 for an evidentiary hearing regarding the defendant’s claim of ineffective counsel during the penalty phase.

Following an evidentiary hearing on 01/07/02, the State Circuit Court again denied Arbelaez’s 3.850 Motion.  Arbelaez filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 10/21/02, which was affirmed on 01/27/05.

Additionally, Arbelaez filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on 09/26/03, which was denied on 01/27/05.

Arbelaez filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court on 11/30/04 that was denied on 08/05/05.

Arbelaez filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/07/05 that is pending.




Guillermo Octavio Arbelaez



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