MIAMI — The teenage son of a senior Canadian diplomat is a risk of fleeing prosecution in South Florida for his role in an alleged drug-related shootout and will not be released on bail before trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler rejected the attempt by defense attorneys to gain release for 15-year-old Marc Wabafiyebazu, the son of Canadian consul general to Miami Roxanne Dube. The mother had assured Pooler her son would stay in the U.S. and show up for all hearings, but Pooler said it would be too easy for him to flee to Canada possibly by simply driving there.
Pooler also said Canada would not extradite Wabafiyebazu because it does not recognize the crime of felony murder in circumstances such as his and because of his youth. In Florida, a person can be charged with murder, including a minor teenager, if someone is killed during the commission of another felony crime such as a robbery.
“It seems to me it is highly unlikely that the United States would ever be able to bring him back,” Pooler said.
Wabafiyebazu is charged as an adult in the March 30 shootout that killed his older brother, 18-year-old Jean, and 17-year-old Joshua Wright. Police say the slayings happened after the Wabafiyebazu brothers tried to rob marijuana dealers, with Wright and Jean Wabafiyebazu shooting each other.
Marc Wabafiyebazu has pleaded not guilty. His mother says she is convinced he is innocent and had insisted she would ensure he remained in the U.S. if released. The boy’s parents are divorced and his father lives in Ottawa, Canada.
Under Florida law, people charged with serious crimes such as murder are kept in custody without bond unless they can persuade a judge to release them. Wabafiyebazu’s attorneys sought to show during a two-day hearing last week that the boy was simply following along with his brother and played no active role in the robbery attempt or shootings.
But Assistant State Attorney Marie Mato said Wabafiyebazu was the lookout and possible getaway driver, despite his youth, and was fully aware of what was to happen.
“His role in this encounter is to assist his brother in this,” Mato said.
Pooler noted that Dube testified last week that she was unaware her sons were often not in school, that they seemed to have ready access to large amounts of cash and that they had borrowed her BMW car with its diplomatic plates the day of the killings.
“She was not aware of the amount of time they skipped school,” Pooler said. “She did not know where they obtained guns.”
Dube left the courthouse without speaking to reporters but her son’s attorney, Curt Obront, said he would begin to prepare for trial. The current trial date is in July, but that is almost certain to be delayed, he said.
“Certainly, we’re disappointed, but we respect the court,” Obront said. “We still have faith in our case and our client, and we’re going to move forward.”