E-mail may compromise witness ID in Costa Rica murder case

November 7, 2008

A widely circulated e-mail may have compromised a critical part of the prosecution´s case against two suspects in the murder of a White House Casino dealer.

The e-mail contained the mug shots of the two suspects in the case, Juan Mena Jimenez and Christian Mora Cantillano, who were arrested in the Oct. 28 murder of Yerlin Marín and for attempted murder of Angie Peraza and Arelis Marín, Yerlin´s sister. Peraza and Arelis Marín were both shot twice but survived.

But Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall´Anese told the daily Al Día that the images´ circulation could call into question the women´s identification of the two in a police lineup, putting “the validity of the evidence at risk.” But, he added, “The (witness identification) is not necessarily … inadmissible (evidence) because the women are in the hospital and have not seen the pictures or the e-mail.”

The witness IDs of the two suspects could still be used as evidence in the case, but the prosecution would have to prove that the women had not seen the e-mail prior to that, according to Al Día.

The Judicial Branch confirmed the next day that Peraza and Marín had correctly identified Mora and Mena in a live police lineup.

The two men are charged with kidnapping the women shortly after the three left the White House Hotel & Casino, where they worked as dealers, in San Antonio de Escazu, west of San José. The men allegedly drove then to three different locations and shot each one execution-style.

“The bar is higher now (for the prosecution),” said Tiffer. “But the case isn´t lost.”

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