LARGO — A Pinellas County jury on Wednesday acquitted Hector Vasquez-Padilla of fatally shooting a 23-year-old man near an Oldsmar preserve in 2006. It was his second trial on the charge, after his first conviction in 2013 was overturned last year.
Vasquez, 29, of Tampa, was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in 2011 for the slaying of Marcos Antonio Diaz. During his first trial in 2013, prosecutors said Padilla thought Diaz had arranged to have him robbed of about $2,000 at gunpoint before a drug deal in St. Petersburg.
A jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison. Padilla's lawyer appealed, arguing that an audio recording of a witness statement played during the trial violated his client's Sixth Amendment right to confront the witness against him.
The state's witness, Abel Garcia, testified on the stand that he did not remember his interview with detectives.
In April 2016, the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned Padilla's sentence.