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Crime News Breaking News

Family 'Devastated' After Costa Rica Security Guard Who Killed American Tourist Gets Just 16 Years

Bismarck Espinoza Martínez was convicted of stabbing Carla Stefaniak, who was visiting Costa Rica for a birthday trip, on the final night of her stay.

By Jill Sederstrom

A Costa Rica security guard has been sentenced to 16 years behind bars for killing an American tourist, who had been visiting the country for a birthday trip.

Bismarck Espinoza Martínez was convicted Monday of homicidio simple, or second-degree murder, for the fatal stabbing of 36-year-old Carla Stefaniak, according to The Tico Times.

Stefaniak, who had been living in Florida, traveled to a Costa Rica resort in November 2018 to celebrate her birthday with her sister-in-law April Antonieta, but Antonieta had to leave the trip one day before Stefaniak, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Stefaniak had arranged for a driver to pick her up at 8:30 a.m. the next morning to head to the airport, but she never made her flight. Her body was later discovered half-buried in a wooded area behind the Villa Buena Vista resort in Escazu where she had been staying.

Her final communication with her family occurred around 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 — the night before her scheduled flight — when Stefaniak mentioned that she was going to ask a guard for some water.

Martínez had been working as a guard at the Airbnb resort at the time.

Before she disappeared, Stefaniak had described the lodging to her family as “sketchy.”

Along with the 16-year prison sentence, Martínez was ordered to pay the family about $53,000 in compensation, The Tico Times reports.

Martínez was found not guilty of the more serious charge of homicidio calificado, or first-degree murder, the paper reports.

Her father, Carlos Caicedo, voiced his frustration and pain to local media outlet CRhoy.com after learning of the verdict and what he believed was the short 16-year sentence.  

Lawyers for the family had said they were hoping for 60 years in prison, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The Finding Carla Facebook page also remarked on the sentence Tuesday.

“As you can (imagine), the family & friends are devastated by the news and they will need some time,” the post said. “This has been a long exhausting year and to end up here is heartbreaking all over again.”

During the investigation, the medical examiner determined that Stefaniak had been stabbed seven times. One of the stab wounds was in the palm of her hand, suggesting she may have tried to defend herself in her final moments.

The attack had been described as sexually motivated.

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