MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida judge on Wednesday refused to release on bail a Canadian diplomat’s 15-year-old son charged with murder in connection with a botched marijuana deal in March in which his older brother and a suspected drug dealer were fatally shot.
Circuit Court Judge Teresa Mary Pooler said that Marc Wabafiyebazu posed a flight risk, having already managed to acquire thousands of dollars and guns without the knowledge of his mother, Canadian consul general Roxanne Dubé.
“I am loathe to leave Mr. Wabafiyebazu in her custody,” Pooler said, calling Dubé “irresponsible” for allowing the slain older brother to drive her car, which has consular license plates.
Marc Wabafiyebazu was arrested on March 30 after a deal to buy about $5,000 worth of marijuana ended in a shootout at a Miami-area apartment, according to police reports. His older brother, Jean Wabafiyebazu, was killed along with suspected drug dealer Joshua Wright, 17.
At least one other suspected drug dealer was wounded in the incident, in which it remains unclear who fired the fatal shots.
Marc Wabafiyebazu was charged in April with one count of first-degree murder, one count of felony second-degree murder, and two counts of attempted felony murder. Under Florida law, anyone who participates in a violent felony in which someone dies can be charged with murder.
During two days of testimony at his bail hearing, Wabafiyebazu’s lawyers argued that the younger brother sat in the car weaponless as his older brother entered the apartment. They said he tried to call for help after the shooting.
Prosecutors contend Marc Wabafiyebazu was acting as a lookout outside the apartment.
Defense lawyers disputed the admissibility of statements police say that Wabafiyebazu made threatening to kill an officer and admitting he and his brother went to the residence to steal the drugs.
Dubé last week promised the court she would not help her son, whom she believes is innocent, to flee the United States.
The Wabafiyebazu brothers had recently moved to Florida with their mother, named Canada’s general consul in Miami. A veteran diplomat, she previously served as Canada’s ambassador to Zimbabwe.
Editing by Letitia Stein and Will Dunham