FORT LAUDERDALE — A 15-year-old boy is accused of forcing a South Florida real estate agent to drive to an ATM and withdraw cash before fatally shooting him last month.
The teen was arrested Friday while in custody on an unrelated case and charged with second-degree murder and robbery. The Broward State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday they are charging him as an adult in the Feb. 1 killing of Stefano Barbosa, 37.
Barbosa had just obtained signatures from a customer that afternoon when the teen approached him with a gun. Prosecutors said the teen forced Barbosa to drive to a Bank of America machine and make two withdrawals of $500.
The teen then shot him in the chest as he drove, news outlets reported. The car crashed through a fence and hit a tree. The teen fled.
The teen turned 15 in December. His criminal record shows he had already been arrested on charges of battery on a person 65 or older; battery on a law enforcement officer; aggravated battery on a school employee; interfering with school functions; threatening a public servant or family; criminal mischief involving religious articles in a church, synagogue or mosque; gambling for money; obstruction; and driving without a valid license.
“This young person’s issues are so significant that they require treatment, help, and services beyond what the juvenile justice system can provide at this time,” Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement.
On Saturday, while making a first appearance before a judge in adult court, the teen appeared to have difficulty understanding what was happening, the South Florida SunSentinel reported.
“Uh, I don’t understand ... what the big words are,” he told Broward Judge John Murphy.
“I know it says you’re 15 years old, but you’ve been charged as an adult with a first count of murder while engaged in a (second count of) ... robbery with a firearm,” Murphy explained, adding that he would not be released on bond.
Fort Lauderdale police identified the teen through surveillance videos from the neighborhood and the bank. They showed the photos to people in the area, who recognized him.
According to police, the teen was a student at Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach, which is a school for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Three staffers at the school also identified the teen from the photos.
Investigators learned his cellphone showed he was in the area where Barbosa was kidnapped on Feb. 1, and a search of his phone’s history showed that he accessed a news story about the killing on Feb. 2, the newspaper reported.
The teen now faces life in prison if convicted of murder. If he were to be convicted in juvenile court, he would be released after three years and could only be kept under supervision until he turns 21, the state attorney said.