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Police: Driver accused of murdering of wealthy Florida couple

Debra and Hector Rivera

Debra and Hector Rivera
WTSP

(CBS/AP) TAMPA, Fla. - Authorities have arrested a wealthy Tampa woman's driver in connection with the slaying of her and her husband.

Deputies arrested Julian Ospina Florez, 31, of Tampa late Tuesday night, on two counts of first-degree murder, said Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee.

The bodies of 76-year-old Dr. Hector Rivera and 55-year-old Debra Rivera were found Monday at their home in the upscale and gated Avila subdivision. Officials said both had been shot multiple times.

"It was a very brutal murder," Gee said.

Wednesday morning, Florez appeared before a judge who ordered a pre-trial detention hearing on Friday at 10 a.m. to determine his bond, reports CBS affiliate WTSP.

Florez worked for Debra Rivera as an assistant and driver for her jewelry and accessories business. Debra Rivera and Florez went to the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday on a business trip to buy merchandise shortly before the shooting is believed to have happened, Gee said.

The sheriff said Florez was not in good standing with Debra Rivera, who had "become distrustful" of him and had reported a theft of some jewelry to police about a week ago.

Authorities said her body was found in a bathroom in her home. Her husband was gunned down in the front yard; he was coming home after watching a football game with a neighbor.

After receiving a 911 call and arriving at the residence, deputies found Florez inside. Gee said the suspect initially told them he had been attacked by an unknown man, but deputies later found a box of bullets inside Florez's vehicle that they believe were used to kill the couple. A firearm found inside the home was registered to Florez.

According to police records, Florez - who was born in Colombia but came to the U.S. in 1999 and is a naturalized citizen - was arrested in 2004 on burglary and battery charges but the case did not go to trial and Florez was never sentenced.

  • Crimesider Staff

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