Mysterious death

Nurse found dead with needle in her arm: suicide or was it her husband?

Man accused of killing wife leaves jail as prosecutors prepare to appeal ruling

Jesús Arteaga is greeted by family and friends after leaving prison in Jaén.
Jesús Arteaga is greeted by family and friends after leaving prison in Jaén.JOSÉ MANUEL PEDROSA

The case of a nurse who was found dead at her home has been shrouded in mystery since last year. Antonia González Osuna, 46, was discovered in Jaén on October 9, 2012 with a syringe in her wrist, leading to the suspicion that she had committed suicide. However, an autopsy revealed that she may have been the victim of a violent death and, weeks later, her husband was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Last week, after eight months in prison, Jesús Arteaga Parras was released following a ruling by one of Spain's specialized gender violence courts. A key piece of reviewed evidence was an expert report on the time of González's death, a judicial decision that provided a further twist to what has become known as the "crime of the nurse."

On leaving prison, Arteaga, a public worker at the University of Jaén, was greeted by friends and family who have protested his innocence from the beginning and have staged several protests outside the city court asking for his release. Among this group are members of González's family.

However, the public prosecutor's office has said that it is to lodge an appeal against the ruling for what it considers a "persistence of circumstantial evidence" leading it to believe that Arteaga killed his wife. Both the public prosecutor and the Andalusia Women's Institute, a private party in the case, maintain that Arteaga murdered his wife in a crime planned down to the tiniest detail. His defense lawyers argue that he should be completely absolved due to a lack of evidence.

The police report states that Arteaga devised a "meticulous alibi"

The police report into the case states that Arteaga devised a "meticulous alibi." He testified that he called the emergency services to report finding González with the syringe in her wrist and had tried to bring her round without realizing she was dead. He told the police that like all couples he and his wife had the occasional disagreement but that the relationship was sound. No reports of gender violence had ever been filed.

On the day before González's death the couple had argued and Arteaga spent the night at the home of a work colleague. The following day he tried several times to call his wife and, allegedly concerned by the lack of response, went to the marital home and found her lying in bed. In her wrist was a syringe with traces of an anesthetic that she apparently used to help her sleep.

At first, the police treated González's death as a suicide but forensic reports revealed that the injection had been administered after death and that González had in fact died 24 hours before she was discovered. Investigators stated their firm belief that the cause of death was asphyxiation. Furthermore, DNA found under González's fingernails was determined by laboratory analysis to match Arteaga's.

However, a report commissioned by Arteaga's defense team and carried out by forensic analysts at the University of Málaga concluded that the cause of death was consumption of Propofol, an anesthetic that was found in Michael Jackson's home after the singer's death in 2009.

The Jaén Institute of Legal Medicine initially placed the time of death at between 5pm and 6pm, but later altered its findings to 9pm. Arteaga had maintained that he left the house at 8pm and that his wife was alive when he did so. The revised report, which the judge presiding over the case described as "surprising" in his report, supports Arteaga's version of events and left the court no option but to release him without bail until it is decided whether he will stand trial or not.