Letter campaign hopes to clear Dylan Nuno's name, attacks accused killer

— Three months after Dylan Nuno was silenced on a Golden Gate Estates roadside, the teenager’s friends and family are becoming more vocal in the case of his accused killer.

In a stack of handwritten letters they claim to have mailed to Collier Circuit Judge Lauren Brodie, more than two dozen teenagers and adults dispute the notion that Nuno was a bully and ask that his accused killer, 15-year-old Jorge Saavedra, not be judged lightly.

“He was killed by a sick human being and that person needs to pay for what he has done,” Nuno’s girlfriend, Ashley Singh, writes in one letter.

Judges often receive correspondence during a case, but the mailings typically follow a defendant’s conviction, when supporters on both sides attempt to sway the court before sentencing.

Nuno’s aunt, Adriana Nuno, 39, said her nephew’s friends wanted to correct what they saw as the unfair portrayal of their friend in media reports.

“He really wasn’t a bully,” she said. “The kids were just upset at that.”

She said Dylan’s friends started talking about the case on Facebook and that their discussions evolved into the letters. The aunt said she mailed most of the missives to Brodie, prosecutors and Saavedra’s attorney in the first week of April. She mailed another batch last week, she noted.

Details surrounding juvenile court cases are confidential, and Brodie’s receipt of the letters could not be immediately confirmed.

Saavedra is charged as a juvenile with armed manslaughter for Nuno’s Jan. 24 death. Detectives say he pulled a knife as two teenagers fought before onlookers near a bus stop on 47th Ave. NE and stabbed Nuno repeatedly. Both were students at Palmetto Ridge High School.

Brodie has allowed Saavedra to live with his family on home release in Miami as the case proceeds. The teenager is scheduled for a status hearing in Collier County on Tuesday.

Saavedra’s mother, his attorney and several students have told reporters that Nuno bullied Jorge at school. Whether the two planned the fight together, or if one started it, remains unclear.

That the letters, 30 in total, would play a role in the case is doubtful, given that none were made as sworn statements and that few writers attest to personal knowledge of the fight between Nuno and Saavedra.

However, one letter addresses the fight as if the author was present.

“It was supposed to be a fair fight, no knives involved,” Nicky Sanabria wrote in the letter. “It wasn’t even meant to be Dylan’s fight. He just took it upon himself to protect others.”

Saavedra attorney Donald Day said those who know something about the fight should come forward.

“These 30 letters that say there was no bullying is contrary to the evidence collected thus far by the Police and the Defense,” Day wrote in an email. “These surprise witnesses who claim to have information should have come forward during the initial investigation. I would encourage them to send me their names and addresses and we will set their depositions ASAP.”

Day said he has not seen the letters.

Most letters address the stabbing obliquely. Some are addressed to the judge, some are written as if addressing Dylan Nuno. Most of the writers are female. All mention the bullying allegations.

“My friend, the piece of me that is now missing was NOT a bully,” one writer, classmate Amide Jean, wrote.

A friend named Adriana Aradas penned, “When I met Dylan I was been bullied myself, and Dylan was the one to stand up for me and told me how I was this wonderful and beautiful person inside and out. This is why when I heard the attorneys were accusing him for bullying, I could not accept that, and I still can’t accept it.”

Other writers recalled specific moments with Nuno, and several remembered the teen coming to their quinceañera, a coming-of-age celebration for Hispanic girls.

“When it was the day of my Quinceniera He did a backflip for my suprise dance And he did it perfect...” Edith Ramirez wrote.

Reached by phone, one of the writers, 17-year-old Katherine Feliz, said she’s never attended Palmetto Ridge and never knew Jorge Saavedra. Still, she insisted, Nuno wasn’t the type to bully.

Feliz said she heard of the letter writing campaign from a friend, who said she heard of it from Adriana Nuno’s daughter, Dylan Nuno’s cousin.

Feliz didn’t know what Brodie could do with the information, if anything.

“I’m guessing she’ll take into consideration how many letters people are taking the time to write to clear his name...Not everyone is going to put their word in for something that’s not true,” she said.

The letters are a continuation of friends’ and family’s involvement in Saavedra’s case, regardless of the outcome, Adriana Nuno suggested. She expected heavy attendance at Saavedra’s Tuesday hearing.

“Basically at the end of the day there is nothing we can do to bring Dylan back,” she said. “We just want to clear his name.”

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