At 8 am this morning, Monday, January 27, will begin the trial for the murder of the Venezuelan-American tourist in Costa Rica, Carla Estefaniak.

The trial will be in the Criminal Court of Pavas. Up to 15 people are expected to give testimony in the murder of the 36-year-old tourist found dead on December 3, 2018, near the hotel where she was staying in San Antonio de Escazú.

Days before she had been reported missing.

The only person accused of this crime is a Nicaraguan surname Espinoza Martínez, a security guard of the hotel, who was arrested following the discovery of the body a short distance from the hotel.

Carlos Caicedo, the victim’s father, is expected to be in the courtroom, telling the local television media that he still firmly believes Espinoza could not the only person involved in the murder of his daughter.

He says he trusts in the justice of our country.

Stefaniak resided in Hallandale, a suburb near Miami, where he worked as an insurance agent and real estate broker.

Carla visiting the ‘crocodile bridge’ in Costa Rica. Photo from social networks

She came to Costa Rica on November 22, 2018, and planned to return to the U.S. on Wednesday 28 of that same month.

During her stay in the country, prior to the murder, she was in Manuel Antonio (Quepos), La Fortuna de San Carlos, among other places.

Apparently, she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault that became a real bloodbath.

The case against Espinoza

Espinoza Martinez is accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of simple homicide. He was one of the security officers of the hotel located in San Antonio de Escazú, where the body of the tourist was buried.

Espinoza was investigated by authorities, as he told authorities that the tourist had left the hotel in a taxi at 5 am, but it was all a lie. Days later, she was found lifeless, near the hotel property.

According to the prosecution, a witness claims to have heard a phone call, where the suspect’s wife allegedly told her mother-in-law that her son had committed the murder.

The Prosecutor’s Office notes 5 key points in the case:

  • Without specifying the exact time, but between 7:55 pm on November 27, 2018, and 6 am on November 28, the victim stayed at the hotel located in San Antonio de Escazú, in villa number 8.
  • The defendant lived and worked in the hotel, dedicated to the cleaning and surveillance of the villas. He also controlled the entry and exit of guests, watched over the place, was responsible for the reception and delivery of the rooms.
  • It is believed that the accused took advantage of his position to attack the victim.
  • Without being able to determine how, because there were no signs of forcing on the doors and window in the villa occupied by the victim, the accused entered and attacked her with a bladed weapon, causing 7 sharp wounds on the body, neck, and face.
  • After the murder, the suspect would move the body 100 meters from the villa to hide it, wrapped in black rubber.

Doubts persist

The question persists: Were there more participants in Carla Stefaniak’s brutal murder? That is the question that many ask themselves. Undoubtedly, due to the conditions in which the murder would have occurred and the way in which it was discovered, it is valid to raise the question of whether 2 or more people participated in the atrocious murder.

The legal representation of the Stefaniak family, led by lawyer David Hernández along with Joseph Rivera, assures that there is sufficient evidence to link the Espinoza with the murder. But, maintains that there were gaps during the investigation process that prevented strengthening the other great hypothesis: that Espinoza did not act alone.

“In this case, the complaint that was made to see the Ministerio Público and the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) is that the case began with a very tenuous, very accommodating investigation when more rigorousness was needed. The investigation must have been aggressive. Not having given so much time. They lasted for more than a week talking with the owners of the hotel, with the people, the officers coming and going (…) That time spent in this case was essential. That is the complaint,” said Hernández in a statement.

“The evidence leads to Espinoza. But, there are several elements that can make us intuit or think that at some point here other people may have participated with him. Either to move the body or to clean the room (…) that is, other people. We are not saying that the proof does not bind Espinoza, of course, it does. But, we think there was another participation, ”said the lawyer, who questioned that this line of investigation was not properly addressed,” added the lawyer.