The trial for the murder of Carla Stefaniak is winding down, with closing arguments expected to begin on Friday, February 14.
On Wednesday, Valeria Ávila Araya, a former Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) agent, pointed to Bismarck Espinoza Martínez, as the main suspect of killing the American-Venezuelan tourist.
Stefaniak was found dead on December 3, 2018, in a mountainous area of the hotel Le Mas de Provence or Villas Linda Vista, located in San Antonio de Escazú. She had disappeared five days before.
From the first days of the investigation, judicial officials set their sights on Espinoza Martinez, the security guard on duty the night of Carla’s disappearance, after finding inconsistencies in the man’s story to the OIJ.
Espinoza is charged with homicide.
In her testimony, Ávila Araya, who at the time of the murder was an agent of the OIJ’s Miscellaneous Crimes Section, said that the main indications for having the security as a suspect was that he lied about Stefaniak, who had been reported missing by her family in Florida, having left the property where she was staying in an Uber.
“He told me that she had left at dawn and gave us the details of the vehicle, which was modern, with dark windows, but that vehicle is not seen in the videos at the time he says that Carla left,”Ávila Araya told the court.
The former OIJ agent added that the videos were recorded in houses near the villas, located in the only street to the property, which had no electronic surveillance system.
The witness also added that after they found the body, agents checked Espinoza’s room in the hotel, where they found very few belongings, which led investigators to presume that he intended to flee. “Even the owner of the place told us that not even he knew that Bismarck had so few things. It seemed that he prepared to leave the site,” she added.
Ávila Araya added that the same owner of the hotel told them that Bismarck had some bags, but when they checked his room those bags were not there.
Valeria Ávila also said that during the investigation it was possible to determine that the tourist was killed in the room in which she was staying. It is presumed that she was killed between the night of the 27th and the morning of November 28, 2018.
Likewise, the witness mentioned that she interviewed Karla González, the person in charge of cleaning the villas, who told her that she was a witness to a call received by Espinoza’s mother, a woman named Veronica, from her daughter-in-law (Espinoza’s) who told her that Bismarck had told him that he killed the Venezuelan tourist.
Carla Stefaniak arrived at the hotel after spending more than a week in Costa Rica, as part of her 28th birthday celebration, and had visited national parks such as Manuel Antonio and Monteverde, as well as Jaco beach, with her sister-in-law, who left the morning of her disappearance.
Carla had wanted to spend her last night in Costa Rica in the villas atop the Escazu mountains with plans to return to Florida (where she resided) the next day.
Ávila Araya added to her testimony that they were able to verify Carla’s arrival at the property in an Uber, but could not verify that another car had arrived on the morning of the 28th to pick her up, as the accused told investigators looking into Carla’s disappearance.
The trial that began on January 27 is taking place in the Pavas Criminal Courts. President is the three-judge panel led by Eduardo Rojas Sáenz, Simón Guillén, and José Alberto Vargas.