Ana Julia Quezada sentenced to life in jail for Gabriel Cruz murder

The self-confessed killer of the eight-year-old is the first woman to receive the punishment of “permanent reviewable prison” since it was introduced into Spanish law several years ago

Ana Julia Quezada (r), during the trial.
Ana Julia Quezada (r), during the trial.Fermín Rodríguez

Ana Julia Quezada, the convicted killer of eight-year-old Gabriel Cruz, has been sentenced to permanent reviewable prison – the equivalent under Spanish law of a life sentence. She has thus become the first woman to be given the new punishment since its introduction several years ago.

Quezada has been ordered to pay each of Gabriel’s parents €250,000 in moral damages

On September 20, Quezada was found guilty by a jury in Almería, southern Spain, of the 2018 murder of the youngster, who was the son of her then-partner, Ángel Cruz.

The sentence, which was delivered to the relevant parties on Monday, finds her the author of the crime of murder with the aggravating circumstance of kinship to the victim. She has also been convicted of two offenses of psychological abuse against the child’s parents, given that she actively participated in the more than 10-day search for the youngster after his disappearance, despite having buried his body in a shallow grave on a property belonging to Cruz. She has been given a three-year sentence for that crime against the father and a two-year, nine-month sentence for the crime against the mother.

The Provincial Court in Almería has also forbidden Quezada from living in or visiting the municipality of Níjar or the place of residence of Gabriel’s parents for the next 30 years. She is also banned from coming within 500 meters of Gabriel’s mother and father.

She has been ordered to pay each of Gabriel’s parents €250,000 in moral damages and cover the cost to the state of the extensive search for the boy: a total of €200,203.

The jurors spent two days deciding whether Quezada, a 45-year-old immigrant from Dominican Republic, committed murder or reckless homicide, as her defense argued. They also debated whether aggravating circumstances such as premeditation applied, as held by both the public and the private prosecution.

They concluded, in agreement with the public prosecutor, that she killed the child in an intentional and sudden way, using means to ensure his death without running any risk herself, and abusing his trust as a member of the family. The jury did not, however, find that there was premeditation nor did they conclude that she deliberately increased the suffering of the child, as the private prosecution held. They also refused her defense that she was acting under the effects of sleeping pills.

Gabriel Cruz went missing on February 27, 2018 in Las Hortichuelas, a hamlet located inside Cabo de Gata natural park, a sparsely populated area in Almería.

Quezada, who was then in a romantic relationship with the child’s father, Ángel Cruz, confessed to the killing after police caught her moving the eight-year-old’s body in the trunk of her car.

English version by Simon Hunter.

More information