A Dominican woman was sentenced Monday to life in prison in Spain for murdering the eight-year-old son of her Spanish partner in a case that shocked the country.
A jury in Almeria in southern Spain last month found Ana Julia Quezada guilty of killing the boy, who was the son of her then partner Angel Cruz. A court on Monday handed down a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, the stiffest possible jail term under Spanish law.
Gabriel Cruz disappeared on February 27, 2018, after visiting his grandmother in Las Hortichuelas, a village near the coast 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Almeria.
His disappearance triggered a massive search involving hundreds of volunteers which lasted nearly two weeks.
But on March 11, the police discovered the boy’s body in the boot of a car belonging to Quezada, who had been seen taking part in the search, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with his face and speaking to reporters in tears.
He had been asphyxied, according to the court.
Investigators began to suspect Quezada after she found a shirt belonging to the boy near the village in an area which police had searched twice.
The case received nationwide attention after a missing person’s alert went viral. An image of a blue fish — inspired by Gabriel’s love of the sea — was shared on social media with the hashtag #TodosSomosGabriel, meaning “we are all Gabriel”.
During the trial Quezada said she had accidentally killed the boy when she covered his mouth in an attempt to silence him.
The court also ordered her to pay 250,000 euros ($273,000) each to the boy’s mother and father for “psychological damages”, as well as 200,203 euros to the Spanish state to cover the costs of the search for the child.
“Psychopaths should be locked away, far from society, so they can’t hurt anyone,” the boy’s father told reporters last month after the jury found her guilty.