December 7, 2019

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Anhang's wife calm during attack, court told

Carlos Giusti/El Vocero via AP</p><p>Aurea Vazquz-Rijos, above in a 2015 file photo, is accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband Canadian Adam Anhang on Sept. 22, 2005.</p>

Carlos Giusti/El Vocero via AP

Aurea Vazquz-Rijos, above in a 2015 file photo, is accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband Canadian Adam Anhang on Sept. 22, 2005.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — A witness to the murder of Winnipeg native Adam Anhang testified Wednesday that Anhang’s wife did not scream or show any sign of alarm while her husband was beaten and stabbed to death on a San Juan street.

The wife, Aurea Vazquz-Rijos, is accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband around midnight on Sept. 22, 2005. Also charged are Vazquz-Rijos' sister, Marcia, and a boyfriend, Jose Ferrer Sosa.

The witness, Wilma Rios, said she was watching television that evening when she heard a man scream and yell for help. She went to her window, overlooking an intersection in Old San Juan, and saw two men struggling.

"I saw a tall man grabbing another and he was hitting him hard on the neck with something in his hand," she said. "The woman (Vazquez-Rijos) was sitting on the sidewalk a little by the side. The man being attacked fell and I called 911."

The male victim, she said, was crying for help. When the prosecutor asked about Vazquez-Rijos, the eyewitness said: "I did not hear the voice of the woman."

Rios took a number of blurry smartphone pictures of the scene as police and paramedics arrived. She watched while the paramedics helped Vazquez-Rijos onto a stretcher, and she found the woman’s indifferent behaviour surprising.

"It was a terrible moment . . . It’s surprising that when she was on the stretcher that she would take the time to fix her clothes."

The widow’s injuries included a fractured right cheekbone. Anhang, meanwhile, died of numerous knife wounds and blows to the head with a cobblestone. The killer, Alex Pabon, later confessed to the murder, and told police that he was promised $3 million by Vazquez-Rijos and the other two accused for the killing.

The killing came only hours after Anhang told his wife that he was filing for divorce. The couple were at a marriage therapy session when he made the announcement. She replied: "Just try. I’m not going to let you go that easy."

Also Wednesday, forensic pathologist Francisco Cortes testified that the cause of Anhang’s death was severe cerebral trauma, brought on by blows to the head with a blunt object. There were also multiple knife wounds, he said, but most were superficial lacerations.

The injuries to Anhang’s body were illustrated by detailed forensic photographs displayed on screens throughout the courtroom. The accused, Vazquez-Rijos. turned her head away from the screens when the photos were shown, and refused to look, talking continuously to her lawyer. Her co-accused and sister, Marcia, also sitting at the defendants’ table, wept openly.

Meanwhile, Abe Anhang, the victim’s father who is attending the trial, was visibly agitated when the photos of his dead son were shown, looking away occasionally to watch the reaction of Vazquez-Rijos and her sister as forensic experts testified

The elder Anhang has been instrumental in tracking Vazquez-Rijos’ travels to Europe and her legal maneuvers since she was indicted by Puerto Rican authorities in 2008.

Other testimony Wednesday showed that the identity of the killer, Alex Pabon, was widely rumoured on the streets of Old San Juan within hours of Anhang’s murder, and his name was even known to homicide investigators. However, three years elapsed before Pabon, nicknamed El Loco, was finally apprehended and charged.

Meanwhile, a San Juan jury in 2007 convicted another man, Jonathan Roman, for the murder. Roman was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was later released, received compensation and he moved away.

city.desk@freepress.mb.ca

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