SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Puerto Rico woman found guilty of hiring a hit man to kill her wealthy Canadian husband more than a decade ago has been sentenced to life in prison.
Aurea Vazquez Rijos cried on Friday as a U.S. federal judge issued the sentence and ordered that she be transferred to a prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Judge Daniel Dominguez said he believed the jury’s guilty verdict over Vazquez’s statement that she is innocent.
Her defence attorneys plan to appeal in a case that sparked an international manhunt.
Vazquez had been charged with offering a man $3 million to kill real estate developer Adam Anhang. The 32-year-old was stabbed repeatedly and hit in the head with a cobblestone while walking with Vazquez through the historic part of Puerto Rico’s capital in September 2005, just 12 hours after prosecutors said Anhang had asked for a divorce.
During the sentencing, which was held at a federal courthouse near where Anhang was killed, his mother and younger sister read statements.
“It certainly helps to put it behind us, but you can’t forget your own child who dies before you do,” the victim’s father, Abraham Anhang, told The Associated Press. “If you lose a child, there’s never closure.”
As Abraham Anhang left the courtroom, Vazquez asked him, “Are you happy now?” to which he replied, “Shut up.”
Vazquez and Anhang had signed a prenup one day before getting married, with Anhang’s value estimated at more than US$24 million and Vazquez’s at nearly $62,300. Six months after Anhang’s death, Vazquez sued his parents seeking $1 million in damages and $8 million from his estate.
She then left for Florence, Italy in 2008 and was arrested in June 2013 after flying from Italy to Spain. She and her one-month-old baby were extradited to Puerto Rico two years later, leaving behind twin daughters she had with a man in Italy.
Also sentenced to life Friday was Vazquez’s sister, Marcia Vazquez Rijos and an ex-boyfriend of hers, Jose Ferrer Sosa. All three had been found guilty in October last year.
“Today’s sentence concludes a process which required a lot of effort and perseverance. Justice was finally served for the victim and his family,” U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said in a statement.
The main suspect, Alex Pabon Colon, pleaded guilty 10 years ago to killing Anhang and co-operated with prosecutors.
Among those who also testified during the trial last year was a man who sued for wrongful conviction after he was found guilty of killing Anhang and spent eight months in jail. He was released when Pabon was charged as federal authorities took over the case.
Danica Coto, The Associated Press