ST. AUGUSTINE | Tyshawn Jackson testified Monday his neighbor Luis Toledo seemed frantic as the two drove back to Deltona after Toledo left his wife’s car in a Publix parking lot in another county.
Jackson then said Toledo turned to him and said, “I snapped.”
Jackson, 25, took the stand in the trial against Luis Toledo. Toledo, 35, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of his wife, Yessenia Suarez, 28, and two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of her children, Thalia Otto, 9, and Michael Otto, 8. If convicted of killing either of the children, Toledo, a former high-ranking member of the Latin Kings, could face the death penalty.
The mother and children were reported missing Oct. 23, 2013, from their home at 317 Covent Gardens Place in Deltona. Their bodies have not been found.
While they were neighbors, Jackson said he didn’t really know Toledo until the two started attending barber school together. He said Toledo had been giving him rides to school.
Jackson also testified he had been over to Toledo’s house and remembered the kids, Thalia and Michael. Then Jackson started to cry and used his sleeve to wipe at his eyes.
Jackson testified he heard a tapping at his bedroom window at 6:11 a.m. on Oct. 23, 2013.
He said he wondered who it could be, looked out and saw his neighbor, Toledo, dressed in black, wearing a pair of dirty boots.
Jackson said Toledo told him he needed his help. Jackson walked out and waited by Toledo’s Saturn as Toledo went inside his house for about 10 minutes.
Afterward, Toledo asked Jackson to follow him. Toledo drove Suarez’s Honda Accord while Jackson followed in Toledo’s Saturn. They headed toward Sanford and after about 30 minutes, they arrived at a Publix parking lot in Seminole County.
Assistant State Attorney Ryan Will asked what he saw.
Jackson said that as he drove into the shopping center, he saw Toledo wiping down Suarez’s Accord. Will asked him what part of the car.
Jackson said Toledo had a bottle of cleaner and was wiping down the edge of the car door.
Toledo then took out the Accord’s trunk mat and a plastic bag from his wife’s car and put them in the back seat of his Saturn, and asked Jackson to scoot over.
Toledo then drove back toward home. Toledo was acting kind of frantic and looking around.
After about two or three minutes, Toledo turned to Jackson and said “I snapped.”
Jackson said he didn’t ask Toledo any questions. He didn’t want to know. Jackson said he was scared and just wanted to get home.
On the way back to Deltona, Toledo drove up to a dumpster in an apartment complex in Seminole County. Toledo took out the trunk mat and the bag from the Saturn.
Investigators later found the items in the dumpster after Jackson led them there.
After that, Toledo headed back home, but Jackson asked Toledo to drop him off at a 7-Eleven near his home.
Jackson bought a cigar and then walked the two or three minutes home.
After that, as Jackson sat at home, Suarez’s mother, Felicita Perez, worried she couldn’t get in contact with her daughter and drove up to the house.
She asked Jackson if he had seen Toledo and Jackson said no.
Toledo has told investigators it was Jackson who killed the children. But investigators don’t believe that.
“Did you have anything to do with the death of Yessenia Suarez or her children?” Will asked.
“No,” Jackson said.
During cross-examination, one of Toledo’s defense attorney’s Jeff Deen asked Jackson why he had initially told Perez he had not seen Toledo.
Jackson said he had been scared. Jackson said he also asked his mother about going to the police and she told him not while Toledo was still free.
Under questioning by Deen, Jackson said he briefly lost sight of Toledo as he followed him into Seminole County.
Jackson said he made a U-turn and found Toledo in the parking lot wiping down the car.
Deen asked him how long Toledo was wiping down the car.
Jackson said about 10 minutes, but conceded it may have been much less time than that and that it was just a ball park estimate.
Deen also brought up Jackson was on probation at the time. Jackson was on probation after he was charged with a burglary, a third-degree felony.
Toledo’s brother Chris Lasanta took the stand earlier in the day, testifying that Toledo had shown up at his home in Sanford about 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 23.
Prosecutor Mark Johnson asked him what Toledo said. Lasanta said Toledo told him that he had found out his wife was having an affair.
“He was hurt,” Lasanta said.