Costa Rica

Costa Rica Man Accused of Killing Miami Resident Faces Trial

Carla Stefaniak was killed in November of 2018 while on vacation in Costa Rica. Now, her alleged killer is in court.

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The man accused of killing Miami resident Carla Stefaniak while she was on vacation in Costa Rica tsetified in court on Tuesday, almost 14 months after Stefaniak's murder.

Bismarck Espinoza, a security guard of the Airbnb where Stefaniak was staying in Costa Rica, has been in jail since the incident ocurred. Stefaniak, a Venezuelan-American who was vacationing in San Jose for her 36th birthday in November of 2018, was found 200 feet from the room she rented in a suburb.

Now, Espinoza's fate is finally to be decided in a San Jose court. Joseph Rivera, one of the prosecuting attorneys, seemed confident that Espinoza would be found guilty.

"There are elements that implicate Bismarck," he said. "For example, there is a phone call that he makes to his wife in nicaragua in which he tells her he killed the victim.. And after, his wife speaks to Bismarck’s mother, and tells her about the grave situation.”

Rivera says there is also DNA evidence that links espinoza to the crime. Espinoza was arrested after testimony he gave to the police did not match surveillance footage or other witness statements. According to officials, the country’s judicial investigation department alleges Espinoza attempted to rape Stefaniak and she fought back, after which he stabbed her to death.

"He cut her life short in the cruelest way," said Carlos Caicedo, Stefaniak’s father. "Simply because of a sexual aberration, and because he found himself in an enclosed space and he took advantage of the fact she was alone."

Caicedo and his son, Stefaniak's brother Mario Caicedo, live in Orlando. They say their faith in God has been what carried them through the ordeal.

“We as a family, we don’t feel hate, or like we have to seek vengeance against him. We just want justice to be served. That’s all that’s going to bring comfort to our hearts,” said Caicedo.

The trial is expected to last until the end of the week, and prosecutors hope the three judges will reach a verdict by then. The maximum sentence in Costa Rica for the charges Espinoza faces is 50 years in prison.

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