Day 8: jury considers four versions of how Quezada killed Gabriel and if she sought to humiliate parents
The jury must now deliberate on four versions of how Gabriel Cruz was killed, after receiving their instructions and the gratitude of Judge Alejandra Dodero on Wednesday morning.
Did Ana Julia Quezada kill the boy with blows from the axe, leaving him in agony on the floor for 45-90 minutes before suffocating him, did she suffocate him after throwing him against the floor or the wall, did she cover his mouth to stop his insults, knowing that could cause him to die, or was it an accidental death?
The members of the jury must act with "total independence" and "responsibility" in impartially reaching reasonable conclusions, "without hatred or affection", for each question on a list that is 22 pages long. In case of "reasonable" doubts, they must apply the principle of in dubio pro reo, or doubts favour the defendant.
"Every person is innocent until proven otherwise", said the judge.
And since a person's internal realm, their intent, is so difficult to discern, Judge Dodero explained, they will have to analyse Quezada's previous, contemporary and subsequent acts and "remember that the defendant had no obligation to tell the truth" in her statements to the court.
The judge clarified certain legal concepts for the jurors: "Are the victim's possibilities of defence completely eliminated" or did Gabriel perceive "a total lack of concern" because the defendant was his father's partner? In that case, defencelessness would be proved and a conviction for murder would follow.
Did the child's suffering increase, as the private prosecution for the parents alleges? Then there would be extreme cruelty, which would also lead to a conviction for murder, or a stiffer sentence if it were proven alongside defencelessness.
The judge acknowledged that "we have had discrepancies" between the versions of the Public Prosecutor and the private prosecution, and explained to the jurors that in these cases, judges distinguish between one option or another based on the qualifications of the experts and the methodology they used to reach their conclusions.
In this case, the coroners and the pathologist carried out the autopsy and analysed samples from the corpse. The medical experts provided by the parents' lawyer gave "their interpretation" of the autopsy and the results of the samples, but did not take part in them directly.
Four different legal classifications correspond to the four different sets of possible facts: murder due to defencelessness and extreme cruelty (the private prosecution's thesis), murder due only to defencelessness (the Public Prosecutor's thesis), voluntary manslaughter or reckless manslaughter (both defence options).
Possible jail sentences range from three years for reckless homicide to the whole-life tariff for murder requested by the Public Prosecutor and the private prosecution.
The nine jurors must also rule on the facts that led to the fatal outcome at the property in Rodalquilar on February 27, 2018: if Quezada entered into a romantic relationship with Ángel Cruz, if she lived with him and Gabriel on visit days, if the three of them travelled to Las Hortichuelas to spend a few days in the grandmother's house, if Gabriel announced he was going to play with his cousins after lunch, whether or not the defendant left just afterwards to intercept him, if the property "was in a remote and uninhabited place" and if Quezada "was aware of her superiority as regards the child".
In the defence's favour, the jury must decide if Quezada's confession helped her case, "she indicated she had hidden the child's clothing in a green skip located in Retamar", and if she was acting in the heat of the moment, "prey to anger, given the words of the boy saying 'ugly black woman, I want my father to be with my mother'".
Regarding the two counts of psychological abuse and against the moral integrity of Gabriel's parents, Ángel Cruz and Patricia Ramírez, the facts to be considered by the jury are almost identical: did she dig a grave to bury the child and try to cut his arm off, or was she "panicked, blocked and not knowing what to do, unable to bear the consequences, making a hole and burying Gabriel"?
During the 11 days of the search, did she or did she not say to the parents—"generating false expectations about the child appearing"—that "today we will find him, today he will appear, we will give him a coke…the boy told me that morning that he wanted to call you and I told him he could in the evening when his father arrived" or, on the contrary, was she "unable to face what happened and without knowing how to explain it to her partner, given the media impact of the events […] continued to hide what had happened until she was arrested"?
A central issue is the element of her intent over that period too, as with the murder charge: did she intend to "vilify, humiliate and degrade" the parents, deliberately, "she wanted to and was aware the suffering increased", or was it just to "prevent her involvement in the facts from being discovered"?
On March 3, did she place the t-shirt in the cane field to distract attention from the search and increase the parents' suffering?
On March 9, at the march in support of the child, did she appear "wearing a t-shirt with the child's face on it that read 'We are all Gabriel'"?
On March 11, did she dig Gabriel up at the Rodalquilar property and, "with absolute contempt for" him, "utter expressions like 'where can I take him, to a greenhouse, they wanted a fish, didn't they? I'm going to give them a fish, my balls'"?
The jury must also decide if both parents still suffer from post-traumatic stress and "a complete disruption in their daily activities with difficulty adapting to their new reality", and still need treatment as a result of what happened.
And to what extent was Quezada acting "under the effects of anxiolytic medication such as Alaprozam, Lorazepan and Lormetazepan which led her to hide what happened until she was arrested"?
The jury is now locked up—without access to media or mobile phones—until it reaches a verdict. If deliberations drag on, they will be accommodated in a hotel until they have finished.
Points on the list that are favorable to the defendant need a majority of 5 of 9 jurors; those unfavourable to her, a majority of 7 of 9.
- New reporting trip: Gabriel Cruz murder trial
- Day 1: murder trial for death of Gabriel Cruz begins
- Day 2: defendant admits killing Gabriel but denies murder
- Day 3: why did the Civil Guard not search Rodalquilar earlier?
- Day 4: defendant's story in 2018 consistent with trial version of events
- Day 5: Gabriel's blood and defendant's DNA not on axe, says Civil Guard
- Day 7: Quezada begs forgiveness as prosecution squabbles over method