Kadel Piedrahita, the man accused of fatally shooting a cyclist 4 ½ years ago on the Rickenbacker Causeway and making a video of it, rejected a plea offer Thursday that would have put him in prison for a minimum of 25 years.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Alberto Milian set a May 20 trial date, saying he would no longer postpone the case.
Assistant State Attorney Arvind Singh said the plea offer was 40-year sentence with a 25-year mandatory minimum before the defendant could be eligible for parole. Piedrahita, through an interpreter, said he understood the government may decide to not to extend the offer to him again.
Piedrahita, 46, is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault with a firearm. He could face life in prison if convicted at trial, Milian said.
Piedrahita appeared animated in the jury box before the hearing started. He asked a reporter what publication he was with and how he could read the story. He also sported a sling on his left arm, saying other inmates “jumped” him in jail.
Piedrahita followed the cycling group, the Don Pan Riders, on his motorcycle, livestreaming the ride. Palencia, as well as Piedrahita’s son, were part of the group cycling that day.
Piedrahita is seen on video – his own and from members of the cyclist group – confronting Palencia. One recording shows the 48-year-old Cuban immigrant, father of three, lying on the road after being shot in the stomach.
Outside the courtroom, Singh said there was a dispute between Piedrahita and Palencia that preceded the shooting on Aug. 13, 2019. Singh said Palenica either sold or brokered insurance policies.
“The defendant thought the victim did something to cause his insurance to lapse,” he said.
An insurance quote for a homeowner’s policy is part of the public record in the case.
Piedrahita may have thought Palencia cost him money and posted videos on Facebook before the shooting about the victim. “There was some personal animus. The defendant hated the victim,” Singh said.
Piedrahita has cycled through attorneys since being in custody and is now represented by Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office. At the start of the case, he was represented by a private attorney who said his client would be invoking the “stand your ground” defense, claiming he was attacked by Palencia.
“It’s up to the public defender to adopt that motion,” Singh said. “They have not brought up that issue at all.”
Piedrahita wrote to the court in October saying he was a prisoner of a “corrupt system” and a victim of “political and social manipulation of physical and circumstantial evidence.”
“I had to use my legal, registered gun to exercise my 2nd constitutional right to bear arms and protect my life,” he wrote.