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Security guard who killed U.S. teen gets 15-year prison sentence

September 3, 2012

A trial court ordered the hotel La Cangreja, in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica, and a security guard to pay compensation of almost $650,000 to the family of 16-year-old U.S. tourist Justin Johnston. The hotel security guard, Jorge Guevara, shot and killed Johnston after mistaking him for an intruder in June 2011.

The San Carlos trial court, also handed down a 15-year prison sentence to Guevara.

Johnston, a native of Kansas City, was on a school trip in the San Carlos region. He stayed with several other McLouth High School students in the La Cangreja hotel.

On the morning of June 2, 2011, Johnston and another student left the hotel late at night and returned after curfew. When they returned, the pair passed close to an adjoining property with a barbed-wire fence to avoid being noticed, according to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ).

Police said the guard fired a warning shot into the air, frightening the teenagers, who began running towards the hotel. The guard fired in the direction of the students and fatally wounded Johnston.  

The bullet lacerated Johnston’s heart, causing almost instant death. According to police, Guevara’s gun was unregistered.
During the trial, the guard claimed that his intention was not to kill the teenager, but to send another warning shot because he thought the kids were thieves.

Johnston’s parents and four younger siblings will receive the compensation ordered by the court.

The defendants can appeal the court’s verdict.

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