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College student: I killed mother's boss, went on shopping spree after he made sexual advances


James Arauz, the Miami Dade College student who stabbed his mother’s employer to death, testified Thursday in the first day of a hearing to determine whether he would be granted Stand Your Ground immunity.

Arauz, who was 20 at the time, stabbed Vincent Pravata to death and went on a shopping spree with his credit cards in Oct. 2009. Investigators later found bloody fingerprints on a glass that led them to Arauz, who confessed to the murder and claimed self-defense.

The defendant’s mother worked as a housekeeper for Pravata for eight years and Arauz helped do yardwork for four months.

After Arauz’s father died from a heart attack in 2008, the 63-year-old Pravata offered to act as a mentor.

Arauz, an engineering student, testified that Pravata, who was openly gay, occasionally made comments about Arauz’s “beautiful eyes” and asked if he’d ever thought about gay sex.

The defendant’s mother said Pravata was unusually excited when Arauz broke up with his girlfriend less than a month before the stabbing.

From the witness stand Thursday, Arauz said he went to Pravata’s South Miami home to pick up the letter of recommendation he had requested for an internship application.

He said Pravata demanded sexual favors in exchange for the letter.

When Arauz rejected Pravata’s advances and tried to leave, he said the older man “went into a rage and tried to pin me against a wall”

After a chase and physical resistance, Arauz grabbed a decorative knife off a filing cabinet and stabbed Pravata 18 times when he tried to prevent him from opening a metal gate outside the house.

“I had already tried flight and it didn’t work, so I was trying to fight,” Arauz said, describing the desperate struggle for the knife. “It was the survival instinct.”

As Arauz was moving the body back into the house, he saw the victim’s wallet in his pocket and took his credit cards and $480 cash.

Arauz was also facing an outstanding shoplifting charge at the time. He was charged with second degree murder and credit card theft.

Judge Yvonne Colodny will hear further testimony on Friday and decide whether to grant the motion for immunity. If she decides that the defense has not provided enough evidence for Stand Your Ground, the case will go to trial before a jury.


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