Saturday, July 21, 2018
News Roundup

He chased after his ex. She crashed. Now he’s on trial for murder.

LARGO — In the 16 days following their break up, Yordan Acosta Cortina sent Madelyn Gonzalez Mederos about 2,000 text messages.

Acosta told her that they were meant to be together, authorities said, that he was looking for her. In other texts, he said he was jealous, that he could be her worst nightmare.

"You can run from me," authorities said he texted to her on Dec. 12, 2015. "But you can’t hide."

Hours later, authorities said he found her. He chased after her Honda Accord at speeds of more than 100 mph, causing her to lose control and crash. Her new boyfriend, Addienys Calderon Martinez, 25, died at the scene.

That was the case laid out by prosecutors against Acosta at the start of his murder trial on Tuesday afternoon.

FROM 2015: Man, 25, dies in Pinellas Park crash

The 39-year-old Tampa man faces charges of first-degree felony murder for the death of Calderon and aggravated stalking for harassing Gonzalez. If convicted of the murder charge, Acosta could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The messages are among the pieces of evidence that Pinellas-Pasco prosecutors will show the jury this week.

Gonzalez and Acosta started dating in Cuba and later moved to the United States. But throughout their relationship, Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Constantine told jurors, Acosta was controlling and jealous.

Then on Nov. 27, 2015, Gonzalez decided to end her years-long relationship with Acosta. Her mother helped her pack her belongings and move out of the couple’s home while he was away.

"She didn’t realize that night that he wasn’t going to let her go willingly," Constantine said.

Shortly after their break up, Acosta started stalking her. Within those 16 days, the prosecutor said he also called Gonzalez more than 100 times.

The stalking escalated, Constantine said, when Acosta showed up at her work place on Bryan Dairy Road. He snuck into the building by walking in after an employee. Inside, he saw Gonzalez talking with Calderon.

Gonzalez walked outside and saw Acosta standing in the parking lot. She called 911. Pinellas Park police officers arrived and told Acosta to leave.

He did. But the texts and calls continued.

Five days later, Acosta returned to her work place. He waited outside and watched as she got into a 2010 Honda Accord with Calderon. She was driving.

As they pulled out of the parking lot, the prosecutor said Acosta followed. When Gonzalez pulled into a gas station, she realized Acosta was in a nearby car.

"She sees his face and she’s scared," Constantine said. "She doesn’t know what to do."

She drove north on 66th Street N. The state said Acosta followed, driving at speeds exceeding 100 mph. Gonzalez made a U-turn, thinking she could lose him. But when she stared into her rear view mirror, he was still behind her.

Now Gonzalez was in fear for her life, Constantine told the jury.

Gonzalez ran a red light at Bryan Dairy and then lost control of her car near 66th Street N and 100th Avenue N, crashing into a pole. Calderon was pronounced dead at the scene.

Acosta was arrested by Pinellas Park police. Under the state’s felony murder statute, a defendant can be convicted of murder if someone dies in the commission of certain crimes. In Acosta’s case, prosecutors said that crime is aggravated stalking.

Authorities don’t believe Acosta’s car ever touched Gonzalez’s Honda. Still, the prosecutor said he caused the wreck — and ultimately took Calderon’s life.

Then it was defense attorney Daniel Castillo’s turn to address the jury. She refuted much of the state’s timeline. She said Acosta wasn’t chasing after his ex-girlfriend — he was "following" her.

That’s because when Gonzalez left their home, the attorney said, she never explained to Acosta why she was leaving him.

The lawyer blamed her for the crash and said she’s responsible for Calderon’s death. Gonzalez, now 31, could have pulled over instead of speeding.

"The constant theme throughout this whole case is what Madelyn Gonzalez did not do," Castillo said.

The trial resumes Wednesday.

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] Follow @lauracmorel.

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