ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The family of a man gunned down in 2019 during a quinceañera voiced their concerns Monday in court about a plea deal for the killer.
Miguel Gonzalez, 25, was shot and killed in December 2019 after deputies say Pablo Jaimes Jr., then 18, showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s 15th birthday party with some friends and was asked to leave.
Jaimes was arrested on second-degree murder charges. As part of an agreement with the state, Jaimes was offered a plea deal, reducing his charges from second-degree murder to manslaughter with a firearm — and a sentence of 10 years. Without the plea agreement, he faced life in prison.
“Hopefully nobody will go through what we’re going through now,” Sandra Gonzalez, the victim’s mother said.
Jaimes was in court Monday for a hearing during which time Judge Wayne C Wooten accepted the plea agreement.
The victim’s mother said she was upset after the judge accepted the deal.
“Because he wasn’t present here, he wasn’t taken into account,” Gonzalez said. “They didn’t take us into account either.”
On Wednesday, the Gonzalez family’s attorney, Brent Probinsky, sent a letter to Wooten asking him to reconsider the sentence arguing it is “far too lenient considering the compelling facts of the depraved murder.”
State Attorney David Fear said the plea agreement “best balances” both justice and the possible outcomes of a jury trial but did not elaborate further.
Probinsky said the family was told the reduced charge and sentence was because of “self-defense” but they didn’t buy that, arguing no one at the party attempt to harm Jaimes as they tried to get him to leave.
“He refused to leave, his friends begged him to leave and he wouldn’t,” Probinksy told the judge.
Probinsky said Gonzalez was attempting to wrestle the gun away from Jaimes when he was shot.
About a dozen family members and friends of the victim were in court Monday for the hearing.
Gonzalez grew up in Apopka and leaves behind his parents and siblings. He and his brother-in-law opened a concrete business in 2018. The 25-year-old was a devoted son, helping support his family.
His parents asked their lawyer to read a victim impact statement on their behalf because it is still too hard for his family.
Before handing down the sentence, Wooten addressed the family, including the victim’s parents.
“Oftentimes part of the grieving process is watching the criminal process system work through its own process, and sometimes there is a tendency to let the disposition of the case ... the disposition becomes the focus of where the grieving goes and the family doesn’t heal,” Wooten said.
“The only thing a family really wants is their loved one back but that’s the one thing this system cannot do,” Wooten continued.
The judge asked the family to think about what Gonzalez would have wanted for them as they continue to work through their grief.
“Pablo Jaimes could be eligible for release within 8 1/2 years which we think is a disgrace. We’re not asking him to spend his whole life in prison, but 8 1/2 years is nothing for the horrible murder that he did,” Probinsky said. “Miguel Gonzalez was a hero. He came in and tried to take that gun away.
Jaimes was adjudicated guilty to manslaughter with a firearm and sentenced to 10 years with credit for 114 days served. He must also pay more than $22,000 in restitution to the victim’s family.
“10 years in prison for a young adult who turned 18 years old four months before the incident — who was arrested in high school — is not lenient,” Ronald Fox, Jaimes’ attorney.
Jaimes was fingerprinted and led out of the court by deputies to begin his sentence.