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Mother of Slain U.S. Student Seeks Funds to Pay Witnesses

September 24, 2004

NOTHING in bringing her daughter’smurderers to justice came easy, andnow Jeanette Stauffer is struggling tocome up with $30,000 in reward moneyto pay witnesses who were key in solvingthe slaying of U.S. student ShannonMartin three years ago.Martin was stabbed 13 times May 13,2001 while living in the southern Pacificport city of Golfito. The 23-year-oldKansas University student was in the areastudying a rare fern.In the years following her daughter’smurder, Stauffer visited Costa Rica 11times to push prosecutors to pursue thekillers. Her efforts included bringing amember of the Kansas Bureau ofInvestigation to assist in the investigation,hiring a private attorney, and offering areward for information leading to a conviction.Last November, Kattia Cruz, 29 at thetime, and Luis Alberto Castro, 33 at thetime, were found guilty of “simple homicide”and sentenced to 15 years in prison.A third suspect was absolved of allcharges (TT, Nov. 28, 2003).The prosecutor appealed the verdictand in July Cruz and Castro were sentencedto 30 years each (TT, July 2). Thisalso has been appealed.Stauffer says she wants to remaingood on her promise to the witnesses. Sheworries that their lives are at risk inGolfito and said they need money to relocatefrom the area. During the trial, witnessesreceived death threats and Staufferherself was put under 24-hour protectionby Costa Rica’s Special Support Police,an elite SWAT unit.As of this week, Stauffer had $10,000in the reward fund.Two years ago, several corporate executivesfrom the United States pledged to supplythe reward monies, however they havesince had financial losses and cannot deliveron their promise, Stauffer said.She said she and her husband aremore than $100,000 in debt from theexpenses of traveling to Costa Rica anddemanding justice. They have sold theirhouse in Topeka, Kan., and are living in asmaller house.Donations may be sent to the ShannonL. Martin Reward Fund, c/o C.R.Attorney Bernan Salazar, Bufete BernanSalazar & Asociados in San José or toThe Shannon L. Martin Reward Fund, c/oof Capital City Bank, 37th SouthwestTopeka Blvd., Topeka, KS 66609, USA.

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