That early morning a man called Jacobo Piñeiro (right) killed a gay couple by stabbing them 57 times and then tried to set their apartment on fire to cover up the crime.
In court, he acknowledged he had murdered the two men but argued that he had acted in defense after the couple had made unwanted sexual advances and threatened him if he didn't comply. Piñeiro said he "panicked".
Piñeiro's lawyer argued his client had become overcome by an "insurmountable fear of being raped and being murdered". The good ol' 'panic defense'.
It worked. A regional jury acquitted him of murder charges and, at first instance, also acquitted him of arson charges. From my original post on that March 2009 verdict (link above):
It was only after beginning to read the statement in court that the judge stepped in to correct some "errors" which led Piñerio to be charged in setting up the fire. When the verdict was read, jury members covered their face, perhaps already aware of the outrage that their verdict would elicit.In other words, Piñeiro was acquitted of taking two lives but declared guilty of setting a building on fire.
He remains to be sentenced and is expected to be sent to prison for 15 to 20 years for setting the fire. If he hadn't been acquitted of the murder charges, he would have been sent to prison for up to 60 years.
The worldwide outrage was fast. There were protests in London and Spain and my friend Karlo organized a small protest here in New York outside the Spanish embassy.
In October of last year, after the verdict was appealed, a higher court called it "defective, absurd, illogical and arbitrary" and ordered a new trial.
On July 12th of 2010, Piñeiro walked out of jail a free man (video). His attorneys argued that Spanish law forbid the authorities from holding anyone without being charged for more than three years and - since all previous charged had been invalidated - Piñeiro was released until the new trial. Obviously, the friends and family of the murdered couple were distraught and Piñeiro certainly didn't show any more resourcefulness than he showed in jail (check photo above).
Good news: On September 26th a second jury found Piñeiro guilty of both murders as well as setting their place on fire and on October 14 he was sentenced to 25 to 58 years in jail, minus time already served- The maximum allowed time for the horrendous crime.
It's always nice to learn that justice has been served.