Bismark Espinoza Martínez, the security guard at the hotel where American-Venezuelan tourist spent her last night alive in Costa Rica, has been found guilty.

Bismark Espinoza Martínez (in blue polo) sits next to his lawyer in the Pavas Criminal COurts under the watchful eyes of OIJ agents

Espinoza, the only accused of killing Carla Stefaniak, was sentenced on Monday to 16 years in prison.

“What don Bismark (Espinoza Martínez, the sentenced) said is a lie, not only because of the dynamics, but also because he lied to the police that a vehicle had arrived to pick up doña Carla (Stefaniak, the victim) but she never left of the villas. From that moment, the alibi given by Bismark begins to fall apart.

“He was the only one of the workers at the villas who had knowledge of the topography of the site and who knew where a corpse could be hidden (…).

“The Court, from the construction of an indicator event such as the death of doña Carla and the appearance of her body, leads to the logical conclusion that Bismark killed Carla.

“Don Bismark had access to the possibility of cleaning the villas, what they (investigators) find there (in the villa where Stefaniak was staying) is a can of juice and the bed a little out of order. He was responsible for leaving certain traces, but for any observer the villa was clean. He had all the time to commit the act, to remove the traces and throw the lifeless body into one of the most remote parts of the place.”

That is how Judge Eduardo Rojas explained the arguments that led him to conclude, together with judges Simón Guillén and José Alberto Vargas, that Bismark Espinoza Martínez, who worked as a guard at the hotel Le Mas de Provence, in San Antonio de Escazú, San José was responsible for killing Carla Stefaniak between the night of 27 and the morning of November 28, 2018.

Her body was found nearby on December 3.

“She came to enjoy, to live,” said Judge Rojas.

Carla’s father, Carlos Caicedo, on learning of the sentence, confessed to being frustrated, since he considers that the penalty falls short. “I aspired to a true justice that set a precedent (…). I have a bad taste, frustration and pain that nobody can take away from me,” said Caicedo.

Guido Núñez, Espinosa’s lawyer, said the sentence would be appealed.

“The defense cannot share the Court’s arguments, there are several aspects we disagree with, we will have to wait for the written sentence to make the determination,” said Núñez.

In Costa Rica’s criminal proceedings, a three-judge panel reviews the evidence, listens to the testimony of witnesses and arguments of both the prosecutor and defence attorneys.

It is customary for the leading judge to verbally comment on the findings while delivering the sentence.