Day 9: Quezada guilty of the murder of Gabriel Cruz
Ana Julia Quezada Cruz (Dominican Republic, 1974) has been convicted of the murder of 8-year old Gabriel Cruz on February 27, 2018 in Rodalquilar (Almería), with a unanimous verdict from the jury.
"Today, justice has been done for Gabriel and that woman will no longer harm anyone else in her life", said his father, Ángel Cruz, on the steps of the court building following the verdict, to applause and cheers from the public on the street: "psychopaths have to be locked away from society, where they can't hurt anyone".
The boy's mother, Patricia Ramírez, thanked the jury and her lawyers after fighting so that "this witch wouldn't walk on the streets again". "We believe we have succeeded", "we have got justice" so that "this woman never gets out again".
According to the guilty verdict issued this afternoon, "once at the property in Rodalquilar, Ana Julia Quezada intentionally, suddenly and unexpectedly took Gabriel and threw him against the floor or wall of the room, and after the impact of the child, the defendant proceeded, with her own hands, to cover his mouth and nose tightly, until she overcame his resistance and caused his death".
"The defendant Ana Julia Quezada Cruz voluntarily took Gabriel's life suddenly and unexpectedly, without the possibility of defence or reaction from the child".
"Gabriel died as a result of the occlusion of the respiratory orifices by mechanical asphyxiation by suffocation".
In a brave gesture, Gabriel's parents sat just a short distance, some two meters away, from the woman who murdered their son as the verdict was announced, in a courtroom packed with journalists and members of the public. Apart from their own testimonies behind closed doors, the parents had not attended any other sessions of the trial.
When the clerk of the court read out the description of the murder, Mrs. Ramírez covered her own mother's ears so she would not hear the horrible details. Gabriel's other grandmother had accompanied her daughter to the court building in the centre of Almería.
Quezada did not react as the spokeswoman for the jury read out the verdict. She was also convicted of two counts of psychological abuse and two crimes against moral integrity against the parents, also with unanimous verdicts. She did not shed a single tear during this last session of the trial, and half turned her back to the parents from her seat.
The jury considered defencelessness—Gabriel's complete helplessness—proven in the murder but not the use of extreme cruelty in the way she killed him.
Of the four options the jury retired to consider for the death of the child, murder via defencelessness was the version the public prosecutor, Elena María Fernández, had defended during the trial. Mrs. Fernández was responsible for the investigation and public prosecution from the time of Gabriel's disappearance in February 2018.
The jury answered each and every one of the points in the 22 pages of questions handed to them yesterday with a unanimous verdict, after deliberating behind closed doors for 26 hours.
The Public Prosecutor's Office and the private prosecution (for the parents) requested a whole-life prison sentence for the murder.
Additionally, the prosecutor requested three years for the psychological abuse of the father and two years and nine months for the psychological abuse of the mother, as well as the repayment of the €200,203 the investigation and search for the child cost and a total of €845,000 euros in damages for Mr. Cruz, Mrs. Ramírez and the child's paternal grandmother.
The private prosecution requested three years for each count of psychological abuse, two years for each count against moral integrity, and the payment of €250,000 damages to each of the parents.
Mr. Hernández Thiel, for the defence, had no choice but to accept "whatever your honor deems appropriate" for the murder and requested minimum prison sentences for the psychological abuse and crimes against moral integrity: 3 months and 6 months, respectively, due to his client not having a criminal record.
The jury concluded Quezada established a romantic relationship with Mr. Cruz in September 2017, that they lived with Gabriel and that on February 23, 2018, the three travelled to the grandmother's house in Las Hortichuelas.
In her Nissan Pixo car, Quezada took the boy to the property in Rodalquilar, "a remote and uninhabited place" and "aware of her superiority to the child"—Gabriel was 130 cm tall and weighed 25 kg—she murdered him ”with her own hands".
The jury confirmed Quezada personally took part in all the events attributed to her and that everything had been proven by the testimony of the defendant herself, the parents, the expert witnesses and officers of the Civil Guard.
The jury did not appreciate any mitigating behaviour: not the confession to the Civil Guard, not "rage", and not acting in any way under the influence of the toxic substances Alaprozam, Lorazepan or Lormetazepan.
After killing the child, the murderer dug a hole two metres from the door of the room where she had killed him and tried to cut his left arm off.
During the 11 days of the search "she pretended to be afflicted and upset", generating "false expectations" in the parents about the child appearing, "developing an attitude of simulation, pretence and public and notorious farce".
On March 3, 2018, she placed Gabriel's t-shirt in an area filled with reeds.
On March 9, she took part in support march in the centre of Almería wearing a t-shirt with the child's face and the motto "We are all Gabriel".
On March 11, she returned to the property in Rodalquilar to dig the boy up. After putting the body in the trunk of her Nissan Pixo, she said "Where can I take him? To a greenhouse. Do they not want a fish? I'm going to give them a fish, my balls".
Both parents suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and adaptation disorders, "a complete disruption in their daily activities" and still require medical treatment, with "chronic prognosis". Quezada "wanted and was aware of the fact she was increasing the suffering" of both of them.
The jury rejected any suspension of the sentence or any request for a pardon for the accused. The judge will sentence Quezada at a later date.
- 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
- Day 8: jury considers four versions of how Quezada killed Gabriel