Boston.com on April 25, 2012 released the following:
“By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff
On the eve of the trial of a man in Ecuador who is accused of killing a young mother and her toddler son last year in Brockton, an Ecuadoran prosecutor said his country is not a place for criminals to hide.
“We have to respect our constitution and our laws, but our laws also allow for him to be judged here,’’ said Rocio Polo, prosecutor in the city of Cuenca where Luis Guaman is being held. “This is not a refuge for criminals, and we have demonstrated that throughout these many months.’’
Guaman’s trial begins today in the Third Criminal Tribunal of Azuay in Cuenca after months of heated debate about his extradition.
The highly unusual case follows a 14-month stalemate between the United States and Ecuador about where Guaman should face trial for the bludgeoning deaths of Maria Avelina Palaguachi, 25, and her toddler son, Brian Caguana, in February 2011.
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, with the support of US Senator Scott Brown and others, has demanded that Ecuador turn over Guaman using an existing extradition treaty between the two nations. Ecuadoran officials have refused, because their constitution forbids extraditing Ecuadoran citizens, and have implored American officials to help them prosecute him instead.
Polo said Ecuador has shown good faith by swiftly arresting Guaman after he fled the United States for his homeland, holding him for prosecution, and even conducting their own autopsies after the bodies were sent for burial last year.
Guaman, a 41-year-old roofer who was in the United States illegally, has pleaded not guilty, his lawyer said.
He flew to Ecuador using another man’s passport hours after the bodies were found in a trash bin behind the apartment they shared in Brockton. He was arrested a few days later and has been in jail since.
Bridget Norton Middleton, assistant district attorney in Plymouth County, said Tuesday that she did not know that Guaman’s trial was Wednesday. She said officials maintain that the trial should occur in Massachusetts because the crimes were committed here and because he would face stiffer penalties.
He could face life in prison, if convicted in Massachusetts, compared with a maximum of 25 years in Ecuador.
“The problem is that even if convicted under their system, Luis Guaman is not going to spend the rest of his life in jail,’’ she said. “Under their system, he’s going to be released someday, and the problem for this country is what do we do when he sneaks back into this country? How do we protect people here?’’
Italo Palacios, Guaman’s defense lawyer, said Guaman has steadfastly insisted that he had nothing to do with the deaths.
He said Guaman used another man’s passport to leave the United States because he had “some problems’’ in New York, including arrest warrants for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting his estranged wife, who lives in that state.
“He has said he has no participation in this lamentable event,’’ Palacios said of Guaman. “He said he never hurt Maria Palaguachi and little Brian Caguana. He left Massachusetts and said goodbye to them to go to Ecuador.’’”
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Ecuador here.
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