Ayala Given Three More Months to Prepare for Trial

So, I saw Chris Ayala on Wednesday.

I know some readers want an update on the case surrounding him, and others would rather I never mention the guy again. You, of course, might not know anything about it.

Basically, the ex-Boca Raton Student Government treasurer was arrested in April and charged on three counts for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. If you want the back story, check my cover from April. (Be warned that there are graphic details directly from the police report.)

I’ll quickly sum up what I know has happened since I wrote that, and then I’ll tell you what happened when I saw him this week. (Anticlimactic as it is.)

In May, he pled not guilty. His attorney, Marc Shiner, filed for a jury trial. In June, the court docket indicates he got his bail bond reduced enough to get out. I’m not sure how or who paid, but he was released and placed under house arrest after about two months in jail.

In July, he was “permitted to attend a conference at Florida Atlantic University on 7/1/2009,” the docket indicates. This may have been some kind of hearing about whether Ayala would be allowed to return to FAU in the future, but I don’t have any information to back that up; it’s just logical guesswork.

The following day, Ayala waived his right to a speedy trial. A “speedy trial” begins within 6 months of being charged, in Florida. However, the trial could have happened as early as June if he had demanded it, according to Florida law. (As I’m writing this, the statute Web site appears to be down, but I will edit in a link later.) By waiving his right to a speedy trial, Ayala’s attorney has more time to prepare a defense for the trial.

During this time frame, Ayala’s mother apparently died. The docket indicates he was permitted to attend her funeral.

In early August, another meeting at FAU is mentioned. I’ve no more clue what this one entailed than the other.

And that brings us to the present, with things that still haven’t been updated on the docket as of this writing. On Wednesday Sept. 2, Ayala had his second case disposition. I attended.

It was scheduled for 8:30 a.m., but it’s sort of a batch event, where one judge addresses several different cases at once. All the attorneys and defendants line up and wait their turn to request more time or whatever it is they want to say and the judge makes a decision.

The courtroom is fairly small, not like what you see on TV. (Perhaps trial courtrooms are larger, or perhaps this is just a Palm Beach County thing.) The setup allows for about 40 people to sit in three rows of pews at the back, and this space was mostly reserved for the long string of defendants themselves, who sat while the attorneys lined up from almost to the judge’s bench to the entrance. I was lucky to get a seat, since the bailiff was telling everyone there wasn’t room for anyone but defendants.

Ayala and his attorney popped in around 9:05 and his attorney got into the back of the line. Ayala, wearing a light blue suit and somewhat longer hair than he wore at FAU, sat at the end of the second pew. He looked nervously impatient, mostly sitting with his hand over his cheek and mouth. He did notice and recognize me sitting in the back row, and I nodded to indicate I’d like to speak with him afterward. He didn’t seem to recognize anyone else in the pews, and I’m not sure if he had any friends waiting outside.

He didn’t respond except to stare at me, and he looked back at me five or six times. The last time, he glared at me for about ten seconds, as if indicating I should leave. I didn’t, and he didn’t look at me after that.

When his attorney Marc Shiner — a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County, by the way — got to the front of the line about 25 awkward minutes later, Ayala went to the front and stood beside him. Judge Amy Smith commented that Ayala “looked very nice” and thanked him for dressing well. She said, “That shows respect and tells me you’re smart.” Judge Smith then asked how they would like to proceed.

Shiner joked that he “would like to postpone this for six years if possible.” He then, more seriously, asked for 75 days. Judge Smith agreed and indicated the next hearing would be Nov. 18, the week before Thanksgiving.

As Ayala made to walk out, he looked at me again and stopped. He turned back to his attorney and said something. Shiner then walked out with him, and I followed them out to the elevator. Ayala kept looking over his shoulder nervously at me, standing close to Shiner.

While we waited for the elevator, I politely (and sincerely) asked, “How you doing?”

I was about to offer my condolences for his mother, when he — not responding to me after staring for a moment — leaned to whisper to his attorney. His attorney then looked at me, smiled in a not-so-pleasant way, and said “What, he’s stalking you. Do you want me to get the bailiff after him?” in an attempt to intimidate me.

I looked at Ayala, who just shrugged uncomfortably. Shiner put his arm around Ayala and they walked to the elevator in tow.

Taking the hint that Ayala sure as hell didn’t want to talk to me, I waited for the next elevator and left. So there you have it. I don’t know what to make of it. I guess I’ll just joke about the case like Shiner. Six years? We’ll see what happens in November.

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3 Responses to “Ayala Given Three More Months to Prepare for Trial”

  1. I don’t believe in karma but it’s a bitch when it rolls around.

  2. Sounds like Ayala’s Attorney isnt liking his chances right now, who even jokes about needing 6 years?

    Anything interesting happen at that House meeting on friday?

  3. Not really. They voted on a bill to spend more money on T-shirt giveaways at football games.

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