Two death penalty trials begin in Palm Beach County


Trials in two separate cases where Palm Beach County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty are likely to begin this week, with two sets of prospective jurors now in jury selection.

Jury selection began Thursday in the case of John Eugene Chapman, the 28-year-old Miami man who is accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death before he dumped her body in a Delray Beach ditch.

Chapman, who fathered a child with Bristol, was arrested on unrelated charges less than two weeks after Vanessa Carmen Williams Bristol’s body was found in a shallow ditch at 14930 Smith Sundy Road in unincorporated Delray Beach. The day after that arrest, he told investigators he punched Bristol several times in the head outside a suburban Boca Raton housing development, then “snapped” and “went into robotic mode,” stabbing her repeatedly when he saw her reach for a knife.

Assistant State Attorney Reid Scott and Assistant Public Defender Scott Pribble continued jury selection Tuesday after narrowing down two initial pools of prospective jurors last week. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath is presiding over the trial, which is expected to begin later this week.

Another pool of prospective jurors arrived at Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes’ courtroom Tuesday, where jury selection has begun in the trial of Jefty Joseph, one of three people arrested in the December 2013 shooting death of 31-year-old Gustavo Mora Falsetti Cabral.

Joseph and another man, Ilmart Christophe, were arrested almost immediately after Cabral, of Coconut Creek, was shot in an abandoned building at 5973 Ithaca Circle West, east of Jog Road.

Both men blamed the crime on each other, each saying the other took Cabral inside the building and shot him after a night of drinking and gambling and emerged after the gunshot. But it was in Joseph’s pockets that detectives said they found the victim’s license, credit cards, watch and a bank receipt.

Joseph told investigators he was at the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek on Saturday and was with the victim, who he’s known since they were children. He told investigators he had Cabral’s property because Cabral had gotten drunk and didn’t want to spend anymore money, so he asked Joseph to keep his identification cards and credit cards.

Detectives arrested a third person, Koral Ben Shimon, weeks after Joseph and Christophe when they identified her in surveillance video at a Pompano Beach Super 8 Motel linked to a room card key also found in Joseph’s pocket.

The video also showed Ben Shimon meeting the victim in the motel’s parking lot Dec. 1, 2013. Ben Shimon went into the hotel room first and Cabral followed. The four are then seen leaving the motel and Joseph has what appears to be a handgun in his pocket.

Detectives also connected Ben Shimon to the victim after finding phone calls between the two and her phone number as a contact for a Backpage.com escort ad. She told detectives the three were planning to rob Cabral, but she said she didn’t know they were going to kill him.

In a plea deal with prosecutors, Ben Shimon pleaded guilty to robbery and kidnapping charges in exchange for a sentence of 10 years in prison and five years’ probation. Prosecutors’ case against Christophe is still open. His next hearing is set for Jan. 31.



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