Araceli Leaves was found murdered in 2017, with signs of having been suffocated under rubble in a house from the Buenos Aires town of José León Suárez. Four years and seven months after femicide, this Thursday the Oral Criminal Court No. 3 of San Martín sentenced the three of the accused to life.
Those sentenced to life imprisonment were Carlos Casalz, Marcelo Escobedo and Hugo Cabañas. Meanwhile, Hernán Rodrigo Badaracco, Carlos Antonio Ibarra, Daniel Alaniz and the brothers Jonathan and Emanuel Ávalos were not accused, who will therefore be acquitted.
At each conviction, Araceli’s family and friends screamed “Bravoooo” and “Araceli”.
”We look forward to perpetual. We await the result with great anxiety. Hopefully they get what they deserve. After these 4 years and 7 months of struggle, we hope it will be something positive that allows us to continue”, He had told the agency Telam Monica Ferreyra, mother of the victim, moment before the ruling was known.
In the allegations, both the prosecutor Mariana Piwarczuk as the lawyer representing the individual victim, Diego Szpigiel, had requested the penalty of life imprisonment only for three of the defendants: Carlos Casalz, Hugo Cabañas and Marcelo Escobedo.
Another of the suspects, Dario Badaracco, brother of the accused Hernán Rodrigo, had been arrested for the fact but died on April 13, 2019 after having been hospitalized for five days in a hospital in the city of Olavarría, after being beaten and burned with hot water by two cellmates in the Sierra Chica prison.
“We desisted from the accusation of these five people since there was no evidence to consider that they went to the corralón where the crime took place,” Szpigiel, Fulles family lawyer, had indicated about Hernán Rodrigo Badaracco, Ibarra, Alaniz and the Avalos brothers. The lawyer had pointed out that the evidence against Casalz, Escobedo and Cabañas was “blunt”.
“Casalz was the owner of the corral where the dog marked the presence of Araceli’s body and he was the only person who had the key that allowed access to the place. Cabañas is seen at 7 in the morning heading towards the corralón through security camera footage. And finally, it was proven that Escobedo was not at home and used his car to hide Araceli’s body, ”he explained.
The debate, in which the eight men were tried for the crime of “Homicide aggravated by femicide and by the participation of two or more people”, lasted for 53 days, during which almost 300 witnesses testified in 14 hearings in which an attempt was made to meticulously reconstruct the journey of Araceli and the accused during the night of the event.
In principle, all the defendants were free to the oral debate, but as a result of a series of threats towards Araceli’s relatives and witnesses, two of them were detained. On the one hand, Casalz was arrested on September 12 when he went to vote, accused of threatening a witness and Araceli’s mother, to whom he sent a nine-second video with a machine gun saying “there is a bullet for the whole family.”
Meanwhile, Cabañas was arrested two days later, after he tried to enter the second oral trial hearing with a knife. Faced with this situation, Judge Martín Klobovs processed them with preventive detention.
Araceli (22) was found dead on April 27, 2017 under some rubble, in the courtyard of Darío Badaracco’s house, located at Alfonsina Storni 4477, in José León Suárez, San Martín district.
The young woman had been seen alive for the last time at dawn on April 2, in a square near her home, and the last contact with her family was at 7 in the morning of that day, when she sent a message to her mother saying: “Old woman, prepare things for the mate I’m going home.”
But Araceli never showed up and his body was found 25 days later after the intervention of dogs belonging to the Punta Alta Volunteer Firefighters. The autopsy determined that the young woman died of “Mechanical asphyxia” due to “noose strangulation” with an element compatible with plastic seals.
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