MIAMI – Latin songwriter Estefano was shot twice and nearly killed at his waterfront mansion last year by a trusted former handyman who carefully plotted his death but miraculously failed, prosecutors said in closing arguments Wednesday at the handyman's trial.
"He did it. He tried to kill him. He wasn't successful," prosecutor Michael Von Zamft told jurors. "There, but for the grace of God, is a murderer."
The prosecutor pointed at Francisco Oliveira Jr., 31, who is charged with attempted premeditated murder in the May 2007 shooting of Estefano. Estefano was shot twice, wounded in the head and chest, and testified earlier at trial that it was Oliveira who fired the gun.
Estefano testified during a five-day trial that he was shot once and then forced to get down on his knees before the second shot was fired as he begged for his life.
"Junior shot me!" Estefano told friends who came to his rescue, according to trial evidence. Estefano was hospitalized in critical condition initially but has recovered sufficiently to testify.
Oliveira attorney Frank Rubio said jurors should weigh whether Estefano's memory of the shooting is accurate, noting that there is no other corroborating evidence such as DNA or fingerprints and no eyewitnesses to the shooting. The gun also was never found.
"You know that a crime was committed. The question is, who committed the crime?" Rubio said in his closing statement.
Although only Oliveira has been charged, Estefano testified that he believes the shooting was rooted in efforts by his former business manager and a Santeria church the songwriter claims tried to steal his money. A civil lawsuit filed by Estefano earlier this year over the money dispute was settled.
"I'm not saying it's a conspiracy. But you know what? It certainly gives pause and gives a motive," Von Zamft said.
A six-person jury was expected to begin deliberations later Wednesday.
Estefano, 40, whose real name is Fabio Salgado, has composed and produced hit songs for many of the Latin music world's biggest stars: Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony and many others.
Oliveira, who worked as a handyman at Estefano's music studio, claimed he had an alibi and never went to his former boss's house the night of the shooting. He testified that he was home watching martial arts videos, although other evidence showed he had been out late that night.
If convicted, Oliveira faces a prison sentence of at least 25 years.