Trial begins for Manatee Co. couple arrested for having sex on the beach
(MyFoxTampaBay.com) BRADENTON, Fla. – The couple accused of having sex on the beach in front of several people- including children – will have their day in court Friday.
Ben Caballero, 39, and Elissa Alvarez, 20, face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior.
“They’ve been emotionally involved in trying to decide what’s the right thing to do, and that’s been tough on them,” their attorney Ron Kurpiers said.
He and Assistant State Attorney Anthony DaFonseca whittled down a potential jury pool of 50 Wednesday afternoon.
Since the couple’s arrest went viral with millions of hits on YouTube, Kurpiers thinks that made finding an impartial jury a bit more difficult.
“We had to go through the sensitivities of folks and what their opinions were about those types of things and it took a little longer than we expected,” Kurpiers said.
DaFonseca could not comment because the trial is ongoing.
The state plans to call four witnesses: a Bradenton Beach Police Officer and three family members.
Emily Hall is one of them.
“I just want them to learn that it’s not right to do something so vulgar and so serious and just not care,” she said.
Hall was at the beach that day with several visiting family members from West Virginia, her mother, grandmother and two kids.
She said her 4-year-old son was subjected to something no child should see, so she went into “mommy mode”, confronted the couple and was met with resistance and attitude.
“Had they been respectful and said, ‘you know what I’m sorry, you’re right, this is wrong’, that would have been a lot smoother for everybody I think,” Hall said.
The state offered Caballero a plea deal of three years in prison and a lifetime as a sex offender. He declined.
“The decision was made that that was pretty harsh, and it just came back each time that the clients said, ‘you know, we didn’t do anything wrong’,” Kurpiers said.
If Caballero is found guilty, he will be sentenced to 15 years in state prison because of his criminal history.
Alvarez could get up to 15 years.
Hall said she was shocked this case went to trial and was not pled out.
She thinks 15 years is a long time, but “if you’re going to have that attitude and demeanor towards people at a public place where we should have been able to enjoy our vacation and our family time, I think that whatever the law says then that needs to be.”