San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trial Begins For Man Suspected of Killing Girl

THE trial of a man suspected ofkilling 8-year-old Kattia VanessaGonzález began Monday with little dramabesides the momentary fainting of thegirl’s mother.As captured by television news cameras,Olga Juárez closed her eyes and fellback against a wall in a room in the courtbuilding after seeing the suspect, JorgeSánchez. The trial was delayed 15 minuteswhile she recovered.“It was really hard because (it mademe) remember everything,” Juárez saidafterward. “The hardest thing was seeinghim there.” The mother said she knew hewould be at the court, but did not expecthim to be in the same room.“When Olga saw him, you saw thatshe fainted,” Juárez’s lawyer, Juan DiegoCastro, told the press. “She felt that theman was staring at her fixedly, she turnedto look… The accused was staring ather…”Sánchez chose not to testify.Gonzalez’s body was found July 10,2003, under the floorboards of Sánchez’shome, 25 meters from where her familylived in the southern San José neighborhoodof Quesada Durán. She had beenmissing since July 4 of that year (TT, July11, 2003).Sánchez, who reportedly has a historyof suspicious behavior, was arrested andcharged with the girl’s murder.An outpouring of grief and anger thatmonth resulted in nearly 1.5 million signaturesfrom around the country on apetition calling for tougher child-protectionstatutes and passage of the so-called“Kattia and Osvaldo Law,” named for thevictim and Osvaldo Madrigal, 4, killed inJune 2002 (TT, Dec. 24, 2003).The law proposal remains in the permanentCommission on Childhood andAdolescence of the Legislative Assemblywith no known date for completion orcongressional vote, an assembly representativesaid this week.

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