CRIME

Jury declares Asunta’s parents guilty at Galicia child murder trial

Alfonso Basterra and Rosario Porto were only ones accused of causing 12-year-old’s death

Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra during the trial.
Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra during the trial.EL PAÍS

A jury has unanimously found the parents of Asunta Basterra guilty of the 12-year-old’s death in September 2013.

The nine jurors reached their decision after deliberating for five days and answering 21 questions posed by the judge who presided over the highly publicized murder trial.

The verdict notes that the jurors are “not favorable to either a reprieve or a sentence reduction”

The jury found that Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra planned and carried out the murder of their own adopted daughter, who was heavily drugged and strangled.

Her body was found on a rural path outside the family’s country home in Teo, in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia.

The verdict also notes that the jurors are “not favorable to either a reprieve or a sentence reduction.”

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The public prosecutor wants Porto and Basterra, who are divorced, to each serve prison terms of 18 years for murder with the aggravating circumstances of kinship and premeditation.

The jury deliberated for five days inside an isolated room on the top floor of the courthouse in Santiago de Compostela, where the lengthy trial took place.

All nine members were cut off from contact with the outside world, and had their cellphones taken away until a verdict was reached.

Presiding judge Jorge Cid Carballo had asked them for “responsibility, independence, impartiality and observance of the law” in their deliberations because “what’s at stake is society’s desire to punish a crime, but also the lives of two people who could be spending many years in prison.”

“Take your time,” he told them. “I ask you for patience. Haste and justice do not go hand in hand.”

What’s at stake is society’s desire to punish a crime, but also the lives of two people who could be spending many years in prison” Presiding judge Jorge Cid Carballo’s remarks to the jury

Rosario Porto had been the prime suspect in the case from the beginning, after she provided conflicting versions of her own comings and goings on the day of the murder.

Porto, a lawyer with an active social life in Santiago, first denied having taken her daughter to their country house on the evening of September 21. After surveillance camera footage showed both inside the mother’s car, the latter changed her version of events.

Asunta, who was adopted in China at the age of one by Porto and her then-husband Basterra, is believed to have been suffocated after being heavily sedated with lorazepam, a drug used by her mother to treat her own anxiety.

English version by Susana Urra.

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