San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

3 Plead Innocent in New Year’s Eve Murder Case

Three alleged gang members involved in a bloody New Year’s Day assault that left three women dead, including a bystander who was breastfeeding her baby, pled innocent to murder charges in a hearing earlier this week.

A judge ordered the arrest of a fourth man, 19-year-old Larry Quintero, who witnesses said confronted the three gang members upon their arrival to a New Year’s Eve street party in a neighborhood outside of Managua, provoking shotgun fire from the three alleged members of the “El Ceibon” street gang.

Quintero allegedly returned fire with a revolver during the attack, which took place around 1:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day in Americas 2 neighborhood outside of Managua, according to police spokeswoman Vilma Reyes.

One of five people injured during the shootout, Quintero was being hospitalized for a bullet wound in the neck at press time.

The defendants, who were each ordered to await trial under a sentence of preventive prison, denied carrying the shotgun, and their lawyers argued that investigators have yet to establish whose gunfire caused the three deaths, according to local press reports.

Prosecutors are still investigating the case, in which a motive for the shootout was not known at press time this week. Following the post-electoral street violence in November, some concerns have been raised of a resurgence of gang activity here. Marisol del Socorro Romero, 32, Norma Patricia Araica, 19, and Rebeca Donaire, 34, were killed in the shooting.

The murder trial of Quintero, José Cuadra, 23, Norman Obando, 27, and Pablo Mora, 21 is scheduled to begin Jan. 13.

–Nica Times


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