The Florida couple that was charged with having sex on the beach last July was found guilty on Monday, and now faces up to 15 years in prison.
It took approximately 15 minutes for a jury to convict 40-year-old Jose Caballero and 20-year-old Elissa Alvarez on two counts each of lewd and lascivious behavior, a charge that is prosecuted more severely in Florida if minors are present and/or witness the alleged crime. The pair was filmed having sexual intercourse on Bradenton Beach, where witnesses testified that children -- including a three-year-old -- could see them. In addition to serving time in prison, both will have to register as sex offenders.
Caballero and Alvarez's attorney, Ronald Kurpiers, argued that video evidence did not actually prove the couple was having sex, and maintained throughout the trial that they were not. According to the Miami Herald, Kurpiers argued that Alvarez was "dancing on Caballero or 'nudging' him to wake him up." The prosecution didn't buy it.
"She wasn't dancing," Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said during closing arguments. "It's insulting your intelligence to say that she was dancing."
A sentencing date has not yet been announced, but the Herald reports that the prosecution is expected to pursue a harsher penalty for Caballero, who recently served almost eight years in prison for a cocaine trafficking conviction. Alvarez has no prior record, and will likely serve jail time instead of a prison sentence.
Neither the high-profile nature of the case nor the conviction are particularly surprising, as state prosecutors expressed a desire to make an example of Caballero and Alvarez.
"We're dealing with basically tourists, that came from Brandon and Riverview and West Virginia, and they're here on the beaches of Manatee County, our public beaches," Dafonseca said. "So you want to make sure that this isn't something that just goes by the wayside. And that is well known to the community, what will be tolerated and what won't be."
Prosecutor Ed Brodsky explained the problem more clearly: The issue isn't so much that Caballero and Alvarez had sex on the beach, but that they did so shamelessly.
"Did they try to cuddle or do it discreetly?" Brodsky asked the jury, according to the New York Daily News. "Did they go in the water where people couldn't see? Did Ms. Alvarez try to drape a towel over herself or anything? They didn't care."
And that, apparently, is why they're both facing years in prison.