One of the five Florida teens charged with first-degree murder after a shocking machete attack on a fellow student broke down during her interrogation with police, swearing she did nothing wrong.
Desiray Strickland, 19, has been indicted for first degree murder in the 2015 death of 17-year-old Jose Guardado, who was killed at a live-in school in Miami in June 2015.
Police say the attack was so severe, the victim’s face had caved in as a result of the attack.
In the interrogation video after her arrest – released this week – a handcuffed Strickland is seen demanding to be let free, screaming at a detective and crying hysterically, repeatedly saying: ‘I have no involvement!’
Jose Amaya Guardado, 17, was hacked to death with a machete and left in a shallow grave that the suspects had dug in advance. Desiray Strickland (right) is one of the accused murderers
She is heard yelling at the video: ‘I did not kill that boy! I promise!’
Strickland also repeatedly asks for her father. She is reportedly the girlfriend of the teen that is the suspected ringleader of the five allegedly involved in the murder, Kaheem Arbelo, 20.
Police say the killing was over a debt owed to Arbelo, a suspected drug dealer.
Jonathan Lucas, 18, Christian Colon, 19, and 23-year-old Joseph Michael Cabrera, 23, have also been charged.
According to the Miami Herald, witnesses told police Strickland ‘complained that she had missed the first series of machete strikes because she had walked away for a few minutes to urinate in the woods,’ her arrest report says.
After the killing, the group allegedly buried Guardado and to hide evidence, burned belongings as well as their own clothes, according to police. Strickland has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Kaheem Arbelo, 20 (left), a suspected drug dealer, is accused of being the ringleader of the group. Joseph Michael Cabrera, 23 (right), of Key Largo, was also charged
Jonathan Lucas (left), 18, and Christian Colon (right), 19, have also been charged with murder
Strickland and Arbelo are also said to have stayed back while the other three returned to campus, in order to have sex in the woods.
According to the arrest report, the suspects had planned the attack two weeks in advance.
The report accuses them of luring Guardado to a wooded area near Homestead Job Corps, a live-in school and vocational training program for at-risk students run by the U.S. Department of Labor.
That’s where Guardado was hacked to death with a machete and left in a shallow grave that the suspects had dug in advance, police said.
Family members began searching for Guardado after he went missing June 28. His brother discovered his body a few days later
Strickland confessed to planning the murder with the others and told detectives they lured Guardado into the woods before the attack took place.
They set fire to the evidence and then Strickland told detectives she had sex near Guardado’s dead body, police said.
As for a motive, family said Guardado may have owed them money, but police aren’t commenting further.
Last month, Amaya Guardado’s mother spoke of the bitter irony of the whole affair saying she had brought her son to the United States nine years ago to escape the violence rampant in their native El Salvador.
‘I brought my son from there because they were killing people,’ Lucia Guardado said in Spanish at the family’s south Miami-Dade home. ‘I never imagined they would do something like that to my son here.’
Amaya Guardado’s father, Santos Amaya, said his son began attending the school months before his death.
Amaya said his son – the youngest of six siblings – wanted to learn how to be a mechanic, but the family didn’t know the school took in students with criminal records.
He said his son was roommates with Arbelo, who the police report describes as the primary attacker in the group accused of killing Amaya Guardado. Police haven’t disclosed any motive in the death.
Amaya Guardado’s parents said their son was a quiet boy who kept to himself for the most part and never bothered anyone.
The parents said they believe the suspects had been bullying the younger, bespectacled boy and taking money from him before his death.
‘When you go there, they only show you the good,’ Santos Amaya said of the school, speaking in Spanish. ‘They don’t show you the ugly.’
Arbelo is an alleged school drug dealer and attack is thought to have stemmed from a debt owed to Arbelo from Guardado.
In the arrest report, police said Strickland complained about missing the start of the beating because she walked away to urinate in the woods.
The school is located in a remote area of Miami-Dade and is surrounded by wooded areas, with small roads leading into the woods but nowhere else.
According to the report, Amaya Guardado was ordered to lie in the shallow grave after the initial attack, but he made one last attempt to fight off the assailants.
That’s when police say Arbelo struck Amaya Guardado several more times with the machete until his face caved in. The suspects then pushed Amaya Guardado into the grave and buried him in it, according to the report.
The suspects cleaned up the scene, burned the victim’s belonging and their own clothes and got rid of the weapon, authorities said.