Florida man faces 15 years for sex on the beach
A man is facing 15 years in prison after being found guilty of having sex on a Florida beach and both parties have been ordered to register as sex offenders.
Jose Caballero, 40, and Elissa Alvarez, 20, were found guilty of two counts each of "lewd and lascivious behaviour" following just 15 minutes of deliberation.
The couple were caught on camera engaging in sexual contact on Bradenton Beach, Florida, on July 20th 2014 and the video was shown in court.
Grandmother Emily Hall claimed her now four-year-old grand-daughter saw the couple "fondle each other... in broad daylight" on the beach.
Hall filmed the two engaged in what was allegedly their second sexual act of the day, having taken a swim and a nap following the first instance. Over six witnesses from the busy beach testified against the couple.
Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said that a harsher sentence will be sought for Caballero, who less than three years ago served an almost eight-year imprisonment for cocaine trafficking.
Due to the short space of time between convictions, Caballero could be facing the maximum time of 15 years.
The couple turned down a plea deal to plead not guilty and are reportedly "devastated" by the verdict, according to their defense attorney Ronald Kurpiers.
Dafonseca said that the case was important to send a message to the community that this behaviour "wouldn't be tolerated" on public beaches.
Speaking outside the court room, Alvarez' father told reporters that his daughter made a mistake.
"I always say women can be better than men... but they fall in love, and they make a lot of mistakes."
The defence claimed the two did not have sex and pointed out that the video did not show penetration. The judge reminded the jury that "you cannot speculate... and to say they had intercourse, you would have to speculate".
Prosecutor Ed Brodsky, elected state attorney for the 16th judicial district, argued that the couple were still in violation of Florida law regardless of whether or not they had penetrative intercourse.
"Did they try to cuddle, or do it discreetly? Did they go in the water, where people couldn't see?" Brodsky asked the jury. "Did Ms. Alvarez try to drape a towel over herself, or anything? They didn't care."