LABELLE — In the fall of 2009, the body of 17-year-old Immokalee teenager Ricky Trevino lay lifeless near sugar cane fields in the Big Cypress reservation.
Monday, the former friend who shot him to death and put him there escaped a life sentence in prison, thanks to Trevino’s mother.
Teddy Osceola was sentenced to 22 years in prison and 10 years of probation after entering a plea of no contest to the second-degree murder of Trevino, a fatal shooting that extended from an argument between the two men over a drug rip-off.
Noemi Trujillo, Trevino’s mother, agreed to the deal between the prosecution and the defense, allowing Osceola to be convicted of the lesser charge.
“I did this because I’m a mother, too,” Trujillo said while looking at the killer’s mother, Helena DeLuna, who was crying and leaning shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband, Pedro DeLuna.
The deal came around 11 a.m., an hour and a half after Hendry Circuit Judge Nick Thompson ruled Osceola’s confession, the most crucial evidence in the case, would for the most part be allowed in trial.
Prosecutors initially charged Osceola with second-degree murder using a firearm. However, Assistant State Attorney Dan Feinberg and defense attorney Lee Hollander negotiated a lesser charge of second-degree murder without a weapon. The difference meant Osceola avoided a mandatory life sentence under the state’s gun laws.
Osceola can apply for early dismissal of probation after five years if he pays restitution of $8,175, intended for the burial of his friend, and has no violations. Time served since Osceola’s arrest in October 2009 will be applied toward that sentence.
By accounts given to police from Osceola and a juvenile witness, Osceola shot Trevino once in the chest and again in the back as Trevino staggered down Osceola’s driveway, located on the Seminole Indian reservation, on Oct. 13, 2009 around 2 a.m. The two were quarreling after Trevino accused Osceola of setting up a drug rip-off in which the pair were victims.
The first shot was fatal, Feinberg told Thompson. Gun shot residue on the palms of Trevino’s hands indicated that he had his hands up, weaponless and surrendering.
Hollander suggested Trevino owned some of the blame.
“He made the mistake of saying ‘I’m going to come back and kill you and your family,’” Hollander said. “That’s when it was on… that’s when he shot him.”
Trevino was last seen by his mother at their home in Immokalee watching Monday Night Football.
“The last words my son said were ‘Mom, I love you. I’ll see you in the morning,’” Trujillo said when allowed to speak at sentencing. “That morning has never come yet.”
Thompson struck Osceola’s first statement to police, in which he said he shot Trevino with a shotgun. The statement was made before Seminole Police read him his Miranda Rights, Thompson noted.
The judge allowed two other statements by Osceola, one from Oct. 14 and another from Oct. 15. The suspect spoke about having Trevino at his house and dumping the body.
Osceola later guided police to the rural roadside location in the Big Cypress reservation where he and a friend dumped the body and covered it with brush. The friend, a juvenile, had also helped roll Trevino’s body into the back of Osceola’s parents’ pickup truck using an ATV ramp.
The defense previously requested the confession and the information gleaned from it be prohibited due to police speaking with Osceola 90 minutes before recording the statement.
The judge shared his ruling on the confession at about 9:30 a.m. and by 11 a.m. the attorneys returned ready to share their plea deal.
Trujillo was sitting next to Mary Trevino, 20, sister of the victim. Trujillo was chosen to speak on behalf of her family during sentencing.
She began by addressing rumors that her family was at war with the Osceola family.
“There are rumors… I just have to say, I’m not mad at no one,” Trujillo said.
“I just don’t understand. They were friends. This never should have happened like this.” She then turned toward her son’s killer. Osceola looked in her direction and nodded as Trujillo said that he wasn’t threatened by her or her family.
As she walked away to return to her seat, her back toward Osceola, he smiled.
Osceola’s mother and step-father, the DeLunas, spoke to the victim’s mother outside the courtroom following the conviction and sentencing.
“I just want to say God bless that (Trevino) family… If it weren’t for that stupid drug deal... we actually feel for them,” Osceola’s step-father, Pedro DeLuna, said.
Both sets of parents expressed concern about the younger generation continuing the argument between their sons.
“Immokalee is a small town,” said Osceola’s step-father, Pedro DeLuna said.