Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Security guard receives 16 years in prison for murder of Carla Stefaniak

February 17, 2020

Bismarck Espinoza Martínez was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the November 2018 murder of Carla Stefaniak, a tourist who was killed during a visit to Costa Rica.

Martínez, who worked at the San Antonio de Escazú apartment Stefaniak had rented through Airbnb, was on Monday found guilty of homicidio simple, or second-degree murder.

The 16-year prison sentence was announced by the Criminal Court of Pavas. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder in Costa Rica is 18 years.

Martínez and the hotel property must also pay 30 million colones (about $53,000) in compensation to Stefaniak’s family.

Martínez was found not guilty of having committed homicidio calificado, or first-degree murder, which is the highest degree of homicide charge in Costa Rica. A Nicaraguan with an “irregular” immigration record, Martínez was also acquitted of aggravated robbery due to lack of evidence.

In late 2018, United States-Venezuelan tourist Carla Stefaniak was found dead near the Villa Le Mas apartment in which she had been staying. After her remains were identified, Martínez was almost immediately detained as the primary suspect.

On Finding Carla, a Facebook page created “to bring justice to all those responsible for the murder of Carla Stefaniak,” the U.S.-Venezuelan tourist’s friends and family have previously expressed their dissatisfaction with a second-degree charge for Martínez.

“This is beyond sickening,” they wrote of the second-degree charge in July 2019. “This like many other cases in Costa Rica are either swept under the rug or minimized in hopes that it will be forgotten!”

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