Jorge Barahona denied venue change in murder attempt of son
WEST PALM BEACH — A judge this afternoon denied a request for a change of venue in the attempted murder case of Jorge Barahona, the man accused of trying to kill his adopted son in Palm Beach County after authorities say he and his wife murdered the boy’s twin sister in Miami.
Circuit Judge Sandra McSorely made the ruling at the end of a hearing this afternoon, which centered around Barahona’s quest to move his case to Miami. The hearing provided a preview to what jurors in his case will likely hear about the morning of Valentine’s Day 2011, when authorities found 10-year-old Nubia Barahona’s decomposing body just feet away from her brother, Victor, inside Jorge Barahona’s pest control truck along Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach.
Victor Barahona was alive, but his body had been doused with deadly chemicals.
Barahona’s attorneys, James Snowden and Mattie Fore, argued that prosecutors can’t prove the alleged attempted killing of Victor Barahona occurred in Palm Beach County.
But Assistant State Attorney Jill Richstone presented testimony from road worker Thomas Butler who testified that he discovered Barahona’s truck shortly after he started his shift at 5 a.m. When he saw Victor sitting inside, he testified this afternoon, he opened the truck door and was immediately hit with an overpowering odor.
“It’s nothing that I’d ever smelled before,” Butler said. “It was really strong. I wouldn’t even know how to describe it.”
Butler said he eventually picked Victor up and took him out of the truck, testifying that the boy was wet “from his hair all the way down to his shorts” in a substance that ended up burning and stinging Butler’s own arm after he carried him.
Later, Richstone played audio clips from statements Barahona gave to detectives a day later. In them, he said he was trying to run away and had doused himself with the chemicals after he stopped along the road in an apparent suicide attempt. He told detectives it was possible that some of the chemicals accidentally splashed on his son.
Richstone used those statements to argue that Barahona was definitely in Palm Beach County when Victor Barahona was soaked in the chemicals.
The statement’s played in court Friday, also offered a glimpsed into how Jorge Barahona initially explained his Nubia’s death.
After detectives asked him why he was running away, he replied: “What happened? My daughter died. She’s in the back of that truck.”
“My daughter, she’s on medication,”he continued, adding that she had stopped taking the medication before he said: “And then she died.”
The Barahona children’s plight, which garnered state and national attention, became the subject of a Blue Ribbon task force charged with looking into the Florida Department of Children and Families’ handling of the case.
Jorge Barahona and his wife, Carmen, are facing first-degree murder charges in Miami in Nubia’s death. But Palm Beach County authorities also charged him with attempted murder in connection with Victor’s injuries.
He is expected to stand trial on the Palm Beach County charges later this year.