The jury in the Gabriel Cruz murder case were yesterday shown a reconstruction of the crime on day four of the trial of his self-confessed killer, Ana Julia Quezada.
Quezada, 45, was the girlfriend of Gabriel’s father Ángel Cruz at the time, and faces Spain’s maximum penalty – permanent reviewable prison, the equivalent of life with a possibility of parole after a fixed term – if the jury finds her guilty of murder. Her defense is pleading reckless homicide, claiming that the child attacked Quezada with a hatchet and that she acted in self-defense.
On Thursday, the jury appeared to show keen interest as they watched a video of a handcuffed Quezada, dressed in a red hooded jumper, crying as she explained how she murdered the eight-year-old boy – a very different image to the crestfallen and distant woman seen in court.
She began to blame third parties and even spoke badly of the boy
Civil Guard Captain Hidalgo
All eyes except hers were fixed to the screen as it played the 27-minute video, which included footage of the rural property in Rodalquilar where the child’s life was ended on February 27, 2018.
In the video, Judge Rafael Serrano accompanies Quezada as she reenacts her movements from that day. He walks with her into the small room on the property where Quezada says Gabriel entered with a hatchet. “I tried to get it off him. He called me black. He began to scream and scream!” When the judge asks what she was thinking after the murder, Quezada begins to sob: “I was thinking about his father, how I am going to tell his father?”
Quezada and the judge then leave the room and go to the spot where she buried the boy. She describes how she dug the grave, took off Gabriel’s clothes and dragged him into the hole. Quezada says she tried to cut off the boy’s hand and then buried him. The judge asks if she hit the boy with the hatchet or if she beat him. Quezada replies no.
On the day of the reconstruction, Civil Guard officers brought a dog to the rural property to track Gabriel’s scent. The animal stopped at four spots: a mop, the mop bucket, the place in the room where he was murdered, and the site where he was buried.
The jury was also shown photos of Gabriel’s clothes (shoes, sweatpants, shirt and jacket) shoved in a glass container, and another shirt covered in mud that Quezada planted in a cane field.
A Civil Guard officer said Quezada wanted to keep the money Gabriel’s family offered as a reward
Fourteen Civil Guard officers who took part in the investigation also testified on Thursday at the trial that began Monday in Almería. One officer told the jury that Gabriel was walking to his cousins’ house in Las Hortichuelas, located 117 meters away in a straight line, when he was intercepted by Quezada.
The jury watched footage of Quezada opening the trunk of her car and placing Gabriel’s body inside. They also listened to an audio of her saying to herself “Now let’s take you away from here,” and “Ana, you are not going to go to jail,” which was recorded by a microphone the police had planted in her car.
The trial also heard from Captain Hidalgo from the Civil Guard, who said that from the beginning of the investigation Quezada’s behavior was “not cooperative.” “She began to blame third parties and even spoke badly of the boy.” According to Hidalgo, Quezada said Gabriel had insulted her and underestimated her strength when she tried to defend herself from the boy: “She did not make a lot of sense.”
The captain said Quezada lied about things that had no relevance to the case, which aroused investigators’ suspicions. Civil Guard officer Commander Montero also told the jury that the self-confessed killer appeared to want to keep the money Gabriel’s family had offered as a reward during the 11-day search for the child. “She seemed macabre. She wanted money,” he said.
The Civil Guard officers also said that after her arrest on March 11, 2018, Quezada’s first words were “Ángel, I love you a lot, I love Gabriel, my dog is inside [the car].”
Quezada’s defense lawyer, Esteban Hernández, objected on several occasions that he was not able to question the investigators, arguing the right to defense was being “violated.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.