BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — A Florida couple accused of having sex on a public beach in front of families has been found guilty by a jury.
It took the Manatee County jury about 15 minutes Monday to find 20-year-old Elissa Alvarez and 40-year-old Jose Caballero guilty of lewd and lascivious exhibition.
Video played in the courtroom showed Alvarez moving on top of Caballero in a sexual manner in broad daylight. Witnesses testified that a 3-year-old girl saw them.
Both Caballero and Alvarez will now have to register as sex offenders.
The convictions carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
The Bradenton Herald reports that a sentencing date was not announced, but Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said they will pursue a harsher sentence for Caballero than Alvarez, because Alvarez has no prior record and Caballero has been to prison for almost eight years for a cocaine trafficking conviction.
The state will ask for prison time for both defendants.
“We gave them a reasonable offer, what we felt was reasonable, and they decided it wasn’t something they wanted to accept responsibility for,” Dafonseca said. “Despite the video, despite all the witnesses.”
Ed Brodsky, elected state attorney for the 16th judicial district, joined Dafonseca in prosecuting the case. When asked why the case was an important one to the state attorney, Dafonseca said it was important that the community knew what wouldn’t be tolerated on public beaches.
“We’re dealing with basically tourists, that came from Brandon and Riverview and West Virginia, and they’re here on the beaches of Manatee County, our public beaches,” Dafonseca said, referring to the witnesses. “So you want to make sure that this isn’t something that just goes by the wayside. And that it is well-known to the community, what will be tolerated and what won’t be.”
Family members of the couple defended the two outside the courthouse, saying the crime did not deserve this kind of attention.
“He’s a great person,” said Caballero’s mother of her son, declining to give her name. “There are other things out there we need to worry about, and they’re still loose, people who have done worse stuff.”
Dafonseca maintained that the crime was not an innocent one, and that the couple’s attitude and behavior that day deserved punishment.
“You think about 2:30 in the afternoon on a crowded beach, it takes a certain kind of person to do that in front of children only feet away,” he said.