Bricklayer Gerardo Alonso Ríos Mairena was sentenced on Tuesday morning to 216 years in prison, responsible for the murder of five university students on January 19, 2017, in Liberia, Guanacaste.

Wearing a blue t-shirt, Gerardo Alonso Ríos Mairena, sat calmly during the verdict and reading of the sentence Tuesday morning in Liberia. Photo José Cordero

The sentence was handed down by the Trial Court of Liberia (Tribunal de Juicio de Liberia), in a packed courtroom of more than 50 people, mostly relatives, and friends of the victims.

The criminal trial against Rios, 34, charged with five counts of ” homicidio calificado” (qualified homicide), and attempted murder and an offense of sexual abuse against the lone survivor of the attack.

Rios, as during his trial, was calm while listening to the verdict and punishment imposed on him.

Although the total years add up to 216, Rios will only serve 50 years, the maximum penalty allowed under Costa Rican legislation.

The three-member Court was made up of Guillermo Arce Arias (president), Andrea Rodríguez Sandí and Kathy Abarca Serrano.

The Liberia courtroom was packed. Photo José Cordero

“There is no doubt in this Court that you were the person who was there and the only person who carried out the act (…) A single blood trace was found, yours Gerardo (Ríos Mairena). You alone committed the homicides and the abuse against Ingrid (Méndez),” Guillermo Arce Arias said.

The Court ruled out the claim by Rios that he was not in Liberia that day, as alleged by the defense. “It is not true that you were not in Liberia at that time, but they also place you in the area where you have radio bases,” the judge said, referring to the evidence of cellular tower pings of his cellular phone.

In addition to time in prison, Rios was ordered to pay ¢20 million colones to the mother of Ariel Antonio Vargas Condega, one of the victims and assume the cost of the trial of ¢3.8 million colones.

Rios will remain in custody for the next six months while the sentence follows the procedure of appeal period.

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