An Orange County woman, and mother of an accused killer, entered a no contest plea before a judge on Wednesday.
Catalina Ruffin-Sinclair has maintained that she is not guilty on a charge of witness tampering. According to police records, she went to the Ocoee home of Alex Zaldivar and tried to bribe him with offers of a car and cash, so he wouldn't testify against her son, Bessman Okafor.
Okafor is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 10 shooting death of the 19-year-old Zaldivar, just before Zaldivar was set to testify against him in a home-invasion case.
Ruffin-Sinclair, who could have spent up to 30 years behind bars, will be sentenced next month. It's the first of many trials surrounding the death of Zaldivar, as several have been accused of some level of involvement, either directly or indirectly.
Alex Zaldivar's father, Rafael, told us, "I did not want probation for her. I want incarceration for all of these people. It will set the tone for all of these trials and it's a good start."
The no contest plea was entered after Ruffin-Sinclair's lawyer attempted to get new evidence in the case against her thrown out. In court discussions, the defense indicated that the evidence consisted of a piece of paper found in her car with the victim's address on it, along with her statement to investigators and a letter the state thinks was given to one of the victims.
"I don't pity her. I wish she would have gotten 50 years," Zaldivar said.
Zaldivar said he has hired the high-profile Orlando law firm Morgan and Morgan to represent him in a civil suit. He said he wants answers as to why Okafor was allowed to roam the streets after being placed on home confinement. Records show he was out 109 times in the 10 months he was awaiting trial. Orange County Corrections is investigating why no one notified a judge about Okafor's violation.