A Paraguayan court has sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for the murder of American teen, whose death initially was ruled a suicide.
In a criminal case closely followed by the U.S. government, Rene Hofstetter, 21, was sentenced in the murder of his friend Alejandro Villamayor, 16, a native of Rockville, Maryland, who moved to Paraguay at age 6. AP News reported.
Alejandro was found dead on June 27, 2015, with a bullet in his temple during a trip with friends to a ranch 250 miles south of the Asuncion, Paraguay capital.
Hofstetter’s fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, and his father owned the ranch where Villamayor was killed. A separate court sentenced ranch worker Mathias Wilbs to three years in prison for his role in covering up the crime to make it look like a suicide.
“We’ve followed the criminal case of the youngster Alex Villamayor,”The United States Ambassador Lee McClenny said on his Twitter. “And it’s gratifying that after a long period, the case has reached closure that in some way can comfort and strengthen the Villamayor family.”
His family and friends remember Alejandro as he was known to his loved ones, as a happy teenager who enjoyed training at a gym and excelled at school.
The U.S. government had expressed its concern over the initial investigation’s lack of results, and the case became a test of Paraguayan endemically corrupt justice system.
American teen body was found with a handgun in its hand, and defense attorneys and prosecutors at first said his death was a suicide. But Villamayor’s family always believed it was a homicide.
Paraguay’s public ministry was forced to reclassify the case as a homicide and change the investigating team after forensic tests contradicted the prosecutor’s initial suicide conclusion.
Detectives found Villamayor was holding the handgun in his left hand although he was right-handed, and the firearm was not the same one that fired the bullet that killed American teen.
Wilbs, the ranch worker, later confessed to helping cover up the crime and placing the weapon in the teenager’s hand on the orders of Hofstetter’s father.
Also, blood stains on the body indicated Villamayor’s body had been turned around, and he had been dressed in clothes that did not belong to him.
A medical examiner discovered injuries on his body. Three forensic doctors said during the trial that he had suffered these injuries just a few minutes before his death.
Hofstetter traveled to Europe in Germany and only returned to Paraguay when the newly appointed Paraguayan prosecutors demanded an international arrest warrant.