Canada’s consul general to Miami finds out Wednesday if she can take her 15-year-old son home while he awaits trial on felony murder and other charges related to a shooting that left her other son dead.
At a hearing last Friday, a tearful Roxanne Dube promised to put up $25,000 and ensure Marc Wabafiyebazu abides by all conditions if he’s released on bail.
“My life is a life of integrity,” Dube said, turning to look directly at the judge. “If I give you my word, I mean it.”
It will be up to Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler to decide if Wabafiyebazu can have bail, and, if so, under restrictions she suggested would be stringent.
Police allege Wabafiyebazu’s 18-year-old brother Jean and another teenager shot each other dead at a Miami apartment on March 30 in what they say was a botched armed robbery the accused was part of.
At Friday’s hearing, Pooler pressed Dube on her status as a diplomat, asking several questions about her passports and whether she might somehow be able to spirit her son out of the United States. A desperate mother, the judge suggested, might well do or say anything to save him from potentially lengthy imprisonment.
“She has one son who is dead,” Pooler said. “She has one son who is on trial in connection with that death.”
The prosecution also suggested Dube’s diplomatic immunity meant she could lie under oath with impunity.
Dube bristled at the suggestions, saying allowing her child to become a fugitive would be ruinous to them both.
“He would be a criminal forever,” she said. “My diplomatic career would be over.”
The former Canadian ambassador to Zimbabwe told court that Wabafiyebazu — he has pleaded not guilty to felony first-degree murder and other charges — is the son every parent wants. She said he is quiet, smart and with no history of fighting or violence.
“I am absolutely convinced of Marc’s innocence,” she told the hearing.
Dube said her sons were inseparable — that the older one was ambitious and loved money. He had told her that day he was going to buy a school book. They would then grab some wings and watch a movie. Her younger child, she said, looked up to his older brother and was “highly influenced” by him.
In a darker moment, Dube said raising two boys can be difficult at the best of times but raising two black boys is even harder and her older son had been the victim of racial profiling.
“He was certainly feeling a difference,” she said.
In statements about which the defence has raised serious concerns, the grief-stricken teen allegedly told police his sibling had gone into the apartment planning to rip off a drug dealer while he waited in their mom’s black BMW.
The prosecution initially alleged the younger sibling was supposed to be the getaway driver. The defence pointed out that Wabafiyebazu, who had turned 15 just 12 days earlier, could not drive and did not get behind the wheel during the robbery.
The prosecution then alleged Wabafiyebazu had used one of his brother’s guns to shoot and injure the fleeing drug dealer. Surveillance video, forensic evidence and even the dealer’s own account ruled that out.
Ultimately, almost the entire case rests on testimony from Officer Juan Velez, a rookie cop who was transporting the accused to a detention centre. It was during that ride, Velez testified, that Wabafiyebazu spontaneously blurted out a detailed confession that included his assertion the brothers had done a drug “rip” many times before.
The defence heaped scorn on Velez’s account, noting that several key details of the purported confession were simply wrong.
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press