Jury set to deliberate today in Puerto Rico murder-for-hire trial
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/10/2018 (1641 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — The jury in the Adam Anhang murder trial heard two conflicting versions of his death on Monday: one in which his widow was the “mastermind” of the plot to kill him, the other in which the Winnipeg-born businessman was caught up in serious business complications.
The San Juan jury begins deliberations today.
“(Anhang) knew that she liked money,” prosecutor Jose Ruiz said about the widow, Aurea Vazquez-Rijos, in his closing argument. “What he didn’t know is that she liked it so much she would kill for it.”
Vazquez-Rijos, 38, is accused of conspiracy in the September 2005 murder-for-hire, along with her sister, Marcia, and a boyfriend, Jose Ferrer Sosa. The prosecution maintains they hired a hit man and promised him US$3 million to kill the Canadian real estate developer.
The widow stood to get US$8 million upon Anhang’s death, according to their prenuptial agreement.
Anhang was about to divorce her, after a six-month marriage.
“She saw only a walking dollar sign,” Ruiz told the jury. “And for eight years she got away with it… The lies stop right here. She’s not fooling anybody anymore.”
However, Vazquez-Rijos’s defence lawyer, Lydia Lizarribar, said despite the talk of divorce, her client loved Anhang and he loved her. “They had a strong physical and emotional bond. She wanted to keep her marriage.”
The problem, Lizarribar told the jury, was Anhang’s business partner, Roberto Cacho, who “went bananas, all hell broke loose” when he learned the couple had married in March 2005, in a quiet civil ceremony, without telling him.
What upset Cacho most was the terms of the prenuptial agreement, which would effectively hand over a large part of the business to Vazquez-Rijos in the event of Anhang’s death, the lawyer said. Anhang brought an estate of US$24 million into the marriage; Vazquez-Rijos brought US$65,000.
Cacho, the defence lawyer said, approached Anhang and told him he should divorce his wife and tear up the pre-nup. “Adam didn’t really want a divorce. Adam loved Aurea… They lived a normal life. Quarrels about money, good sex, difficulty with business partner.”
She said Vazquez-Rijos had no reason to want her husband dead. Nevertheless, at a couple’s therapy session, Anhang told her he was filing for a divorce, and she shot back: “Just try it. I’m not going to let you go that easy.”
Twelve hours later, Anhang was dead, lying in a pool of blood on a cobblestone street.
Lizarribar never said, nor even suggested, Cacho was behind Anhang’s murder. But she did say he “felt betrayed” by his business partner.
The prosecution told the jury having Anhang killed was the culmination of a plan developed by Vazquez-Rijos over many months. Early in 2005, she asked a neighbour with whom she had had an affair if he knew anybody she could hire as a contract killer. She asked the same thing two months later of a lawyer who drew up their pre-nuptial agreement.
Neither man informed the police. “Aurea was looking for a hit man even before they got married,” Ruiz said.
In the end, Alex Pabon, a drug dealer known as “El Loco,” was the one they found.
After killing Anhang with a stone and a knife, Pabon fractured Vazquez-Rijos’s cheek and fled without taking Anhang’s wallet, spoiling the plan to make it look like a random robbery instead of a contract killing, he testified.
Pabon was arrested and confessed to the killing in 2008, and named Vazquez-Rijos, her sister and Ferrer Sosa as the conspirators. However, by that time, Vazquez-Rijos had flown to Italy, where she stayed for the next five years, giving birth to twin girls.
He made a co-operation agreement with federal authorities for a reduced sentence. He was the key prosecution witness at the trial.
Vazquez-Rijos’s odyssey through Europe ended in 2013, when she was arrested in an FBI sting operation in Madrid. In 2015, she was extradited to Puerto Rico, after authorities in the an unincorporated territory of the United States promised not to seek the death penalty.
Updated on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 11:42 AM CDT: adds photo