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Rape tale led to strip club manager killing man in Davie, police say

Posted in Related Deaths
7-7-2008 Florida:

Strip club manager is accused of fatally shooting man, 18

Davie - Three years ago, Richard Rojas, 18, was shot dead at his ex-girlfriend's front door. Now, she and others who once said they were defending themselves from Rojas are facing murder charges.

In July 2005, a man called police to say he'd killed a burglar in the gated Chelsea at Ivanhoe community. Investigators quickly learned the alleged burglar was the former boyfriend of Christin Bilotti, then 17, who lived in the house.

Bilotti told her family that Rojas raped her, and family members later told police that Rojas had broken into the house on several occasions and threatened to kill the girl and her brother.

Christin Bilotti's father asked three employees from the strip club he owned to help protect the family. Police said one of those employees, John W. Pacchiana, shot Rojas.

No arrests were made in the case.

Until this year.

Christin Bilotti's boyfriend at the time of the killing, Julio "Eddie" Arce , now 22, met with police in January and told them the Bilottis conspired to murder Rojas.

In February, authorities arrested Christin Bilotti, now 20; her father, Michael Bilotti, 60; Pacchiana, 36; Wayne Palazzola, 40; and Richard Corbin, 32. They were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and their cases are now winding through the courts.

Defense lawyers said Arce is not a reliable witness because he told police several different stories in interviews after the killing.

"The testimony of the witness they're going to use is beyond incredible," said Fred Haddad, Michael Bilotti's defense attorney. "The whole thing is ridiculous."

Rojas' family said the arrests signal they are closer to getting the justice they have prayed for since the slaying.

"They [detectives] told us from the start that this did not look the way it seemed to be initially, that this would take time," said Rojas' father, Henry Rojas, of Miami. "To hear all these people were involved in an 18-year-old's murder is mind-boggling. He was just starting his life."

Detectives found no evidence a rape took place. Instead, investigators said, Rojas and Christin were friends who called each other often in the days before the killing.

Lead investigator Detective Jeffery S. Yaeger, said interviews, phone records and video surveillance show what really happened. According to his report:

On the afternoon of July 12, 2005, Christin Bilotti told then-boyfriend Arce that Rojas had raped her. Arce insisted she tell her parents. Michael Bilotti became angry, made a phone call and told someone to bring a weapon. Pacchiana, Palazzola and Corbin — all managers at Bilotti's Secrets nightclub in Miami — came to the house.

Palazzola drove Christin Bilotti, her brother, and Arce to Pacchiana and Corbin's apartment in Pembroke Pines.

Detectives do not say why Rojas might have left his south Miami home for the Bilotti house later that night. But on the way there, he called Christin Bilotti's cell phone. She was in the car with Palazzola and Arce, and put Rojas on speaker. Rojas and Arce argued.

"'Egg him on, you know, tell him you want to fight, tell him this and that, we'll grab him," Palazzola reportedly said.

Rojas thought Christin Bilotti was at her house, and drove there.

In the entryway, Pacchiana shot at Rojas, striking him in the face and neck, police said. Pacchiana then called police, saying he shot a burglar.

Later that morning, Arce overheard Corbin telling Palazzola that Rojas fought them.

As the defendants approach trial, Henry Rojas said the family's wounds are reopening.

"Nothing is going to bring my son back," Henry Rojas said. "I just want justice." ..News Source.. by Macollvie Jean-Fran├žois | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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