Teenage cousins Jose Llano Xolo, 14, and Juan Xolo Merlin, 18, told a Broward judge Friday they they acted in self-defense last December when they killed Gregory Hyppolite, a Miami man who offered to help them find a prostitute in exchange for $10.
Llano and Xolo are each charged with second-degree murder, but they're trying to have their charges dismissed under Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which permits the use of deadly force in situations where the defendant is in a place he has the right to be and reasonably fears his life is in danger.
Llano testified on Friday that he and his cousin originally left their Hallandale Beach home intending to go to McDonald's. He had $10 in his pocket. Before they reached the fast food restaurant, they changed their minds and decided to look for a prostitute, he said. They couldn't find one, but they did find Hyppolite, who offered to help.
"My cousin told me that he wanted $10," Llano testified on Friday. "He was offering his services to help us find a prostitute."
Hyppolite kept his end of the bargain, Llano said, but the prostitute wouldn't go with the teenagers because they had no money. Llano said when he looked for the $10 to pay Hyppolite, it was not in his wallet. He offered Hyppolite a broken necklace, but Hyppolite rejected it and said it wasn't made of real gold.
At that point, Llano said, the teenagers started to walk back toward their home. Hyppolite followed them, waving his arms and loudly asking for his money.
"He said if we didn't pay him, he was going to call some of his friends so they could harm us," Llano said.
Llano eventually went home alone, leaving his cousin with Hyppolite behind an auto parts store along Federal Highway. At home, Llano said, he found his laptop and a cellphone and brought it back to offer to Hyppolite. Hyppolite grabbed the laptop and threw it to the ground. The three then got into a fight.
During the fight, Llano said, he handed his cousin a pen, which Xolo used to stab Hyppolite multiple times. Xolo had testified at a previous hearing that he was going for Hyppolite's eyes.
Hyppolite, who had also been cut with a broken bottle, died after a severe beating and stabbing. Llano did not say Hyppolite threatened to kill the cousins or ever showed a weapon.
Lawyers will present arguments on the Stand Your Ground motion early next month.
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