Florida lawyer accused of murder appears in court

Posted at 7:24 AM, July 5, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Scripps News West Palm Beach) — A South Florida lawyer facing a charge of first-degree murder in Boca Raton made his first appearance in court Monday morning.

Brandon Labiner, 34, of Boca Raton, was ordered held without bond on the murder charge he’s facing. He was also being held on a Broward County warrant for driving under the influence.

Brandon Labiner listens as his attorney, Val Rodriguez, speaks to a Palm Beach County judge

Brandon Labiner listens as his attorney, Val Rodriguez, speaks to a Palm Beach County judge during his initial court appearance, July 3, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Scripps News West Palm Beach/Victor Jorges)

Although Boca Raton police have withheld the name of the suspect and victim, citing Marsy’s Law, a probable cause affidavit released Monday revealed that a man’s body was found Saturday in the parking garage of an office building at 5499 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. It’s the same building where Labiner once worked and his father, who is also an attorney, currently works.

According to the affidavit, the victim was found lying in a pool of blood in the parking garage. A preliminary investigation indicated that there appeared to be a gunshot wound to his head and upper chest and two gunshot wounds to his lower body.

Police said five spent .9mm shell casings were located next to the victim’s body, three more live bullets were found near the entrance to the walkway and one live bullet was found in a parking garage trash can.

Labiner had his law license suspended on April 18 after he was accused of stealing nearly $450,000 from his mother’s trust fund. His father initiated the bar complaint.

Nobody answered the telephone at the law office where Labiner once worked with his father, Paul Labiner, whose biography has also been removed from the law firm’s website.

The law office was empty and the door was locked Monday.

According to the affidavit, surveillance video showed the suspect riding a bicycle to and from the office building parking garage Saturday at about the time of the apparent shooting.

Police said the suspect could be seen pulling what appears to be a gun out of his drawstring backpack and pacing around the parking garage before moving his bicycle out of the camera’s view and hiding near a wall by the walkway closest to where the victim was found dead.

A short time later, a man believed to be the victim can be seen entering the parking garage. A scuffle ensues between the two and then both walk out of the camera’s view.

Police said the video shows the suspect briefly reappear “holding his right hand out and in a downward motion towards where the decedent was found.”

parking garage of the office building at 5499 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton

This is the parking garage of the office building at 5499 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Fla., where a man was found shot to death. Brandon Labiner, who once worked in the building at his father’s law firm, has been arrested on a first-degree murder charge. (Scripps News West Palm Beach/John Bryja)

Once the suspect was identified, police tracked him down to an office building at 900 N. Federal Highway, where he refused to answer any questions and provided them with the name of his attorney, Val Rodriguez.

While police were at the office building, just a few miles away from where the victim was found, officers found a gun cleaning kit and a piece of paper with Rodriguez’s name on it.

During a search of the suspect’s office, detectives said they found a bicycle that matched the description of the one seen in the surveillance video. Detectives said they also found a drawstring backpack, a .9mm gun box, a .9mm magazine, multiple boxes of various brands of .9mm ammunition, a gas can, a lighter and a burnt trash can that had gloves, a face mask and a garbage bag with clothes in it.

“Based on the trash can being burnt, the gas can, and the lighter, it appeared that these items may have been used to attempt to destroy evidence,” the affidavit said.

Rodriguez represented Brandon Labiner during his initial court appearance Monday morning and later told Scripps News West Palm Beach that his client denies the allegations.

On the same day Brandon Labiner faced a judge, Boca Raton police divers could be seen searching a murky retention pond behind a residence linked to him.

A police spokeswoman confirmed it was a search for evidence but didn’t say if anything was found.

Brandon Labiner’s next court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 1.

This story was originally published by Scripps News West Palm Beach, an E.W. Scripps Company.

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