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Miami boating death trial begins

Aug. 30, 2012 at 1:11 PM

MIAMI, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Miami-Dade prosecutors said a boat-owner was criminally reckless in the death of a passenger, but defense attorneys countered it was a tragic accident.

Prosecutors say Eulices Alvarez Barrios tossed an inebriated passenger off his idle 32-foot boat into the Intracoastal Waterway on July 4, 2010, and the passenger was hacked to death by propellers of a nearby ship.

The trial against Barrios began Wednesday, The Miami Herald reported Thursday. He is charged with manslaughter in the death of Domingo Vilalta.

"He threw him overboard, like a piece of chum, like bait you would throw overboard when you're fishing," prosecutor Marie Mato said during her opening statement.

Defense attorney Edward O'Donnell countered that Barrios threw an intoxicated Vilalta overboard after Vilalta opened the boat's throttle, causing the boat to lurch forward and a woman to fall into the waterway, where the boat's propellers nearly cut her and another woman "to ribbons."

"He came very close to seriously mutilating two human beings or killing them, by his action, his inexcusable action," O'Donnell said.

Barrios signaled to the nearby boat that a man -- Vilalta -- was in the water, O'Donnell said.

Barrios and others aboard his boat thought Vilalta boarded a nearby boat that accompanied their group, O'Donnell said. No one realized he was missing until they left the area where he was thrown overboard.

Vilalta's body was found two days after he was thrown overboard, the Herald said.

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