But Tramaine Beard, 30, apparently wasn’t content to let an eleventh-hour confession throw his case into confusion. Instead, as a judge prepared to appoint a psychologist to determine whether he was competent to stand trial, Beard excused himself to use the restroom – and vanished.
Broward Circuit Judge David Haimes issued a warrant for Beard’s arrest while the defendant’s attorney, Scott Rubinchik, called him on a cellphone and pleaded with him to come back to court and face the charges.
The whirlwind began last Monday, when Beard and his twin brother, Jermaine, showed up at Rubinchik’s office to discuss the upcoming case. Before that meeting, Rubinchik said he was unaware of Jermaine Beard’s existence.
“I’ve represented Tramaine Beard since July 2015,” said Rubinchik. “I never knew there was a twin brother until Monday, April 4, when they were both in my office. I was never even told there was a brother previously.”
Jermaine Beard served a two-year prison term for grand theft and child abuse from 2011-13, but he was not in custody on Dec. 22, 2010, when a Broward man told police he was robbed at gunpoint in Miramar by a man who claimed to be selling six iPads and four iPhones for $4,100.
The victim showed up with the cash, but instead of receiving the electronics, he told police he found himself faced with a handgun. The robber took $2,000 before the victim shouted for help from a patrol car that had entered the parking lot of the CVS pharmacy on Miramar Parkway.
The gunman and a passenger in his car got away, but the victim, Martin Belmonte, 21, had information police could use: text messages from the robber setting up the bogus electronics sale. Police traced the number to Tramaine Beard, who had used the same number when he was involved in a traffic accident five months earlier.
The victim picked Beard out of a photo lineup, and Beard confessed to investigators.
But that confession may have been a ruse to protect his brother, said Rubinchik.
Tramaine Beard had been found incompetent to stand trial in 2012 and was restored to competency in 2014, according to court records. He served probation for a grand theft in Miami-Dade County before the Miramar robbery.
When the twins were at Rubinchik’s office last week, the attorney called another lawyer to represent Jermaine Beard, who signed a sworn affidavit insisting he was the one who sent the text messages and who robbed Belmonte at gunpoint.
The second man in the robber’s vehicle was never identified and, according to the Beard brothers, is now deceased, Rubinchik said.
Jermaine Beard’s lawyer, Lyon Greenblatt, said he had good news for the would-be confessor. The four-year statute of limitations has likely run out, making it unlikely that prosecutors will be able to charge him with the crime.
“It would have run out in late December 2014 or early January 2015 at the latest,” said Greenblatt. “It doesn’t mean they can’t arrest him and try to prosecute him, but it does mean he would have a very strong defense against that.”
The prosecutor in the case, Kathleen O’Brien, is on vacation and unavailable to comment.
Veteran defense lawyer Michael Gottlieb, who is not associated with the case, said it’s not uncommon for siblings to either blame each other or take the fall for each other, especially when the biggest risk is casting reasonable doubt on a case.
“I don’t know the statistics,” Gottlieb said, “but family members coming forward to exonerate one another is an age-old defense. It’s odd in this case that it took so long or that the defendant didn’t say earlier that it was the brother who did it.”