A jury unanimously found José Bretón guilty of murdering his two small children and burning their bodies to cover up the crime.
The seven women and two men who delivered the verdict had been deliberating since Monday on the facts surrounding the disappearance of Ruth, six, and José, two, from a park where they had gone with their father on October 8, 2011.
The father was always the main suspect in a high-profile case that had the police searching for the bodies for months with ground-penetrating radar and trained dogs. Although the children were never found either dead or alive, investigators discovered the remains of a large bonfire on an estate owned by Bretón’s parents outside Córdoba. Teeth found in the ashes were identified by forensic experts as belonging to children aged around two and six years.
Bretón always claimed that he simply lost his children, but the prosecution held that he killed them as revenge against his wife, who had recently asked him for a divorce. Bretón has been described by psychologists as extremely cold and detached, while police officers who interrogated him underscored his apparent lack of concern about his own children and his visceral verbal attacks against his wife Ruth Ortiz.
On Friday, Bretón listened impassively while the jury said they considered it a proven fact, after hearing the 144 expert witnesses at the trial, that he purchased the sedatives Orfidal and Motiván to put his children to sleep.
It also considered it proven that he bought large amounts of diesel fuel to incinerate their bodies in Las Quemadillas, the estate where he made one last call to his wife – who did not pick up - before going ahead with his criminal plan.
Bretón is still awaiting the judge’s sentence; both the public and private prosecutors are asking for a 40-year sentence.