Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected a sentencing appeal by the defence team of Ana Julia Quezada who was convicted of murdering eight-year-old Gabriel Cruz in Almeria in February 2018.
The ruling has confirmed the original sentence imposed by an Andalusian court, which effectively means the woman who was jailed at the aged of 44 will serve at least 25 years in prison.
On 23 February 2018 Quezada, who was the ex-partner of Gabriel’s father, travelled with them to the boy’s grandmother's house in Las Hortichuelas (Almeria).
Four days later, Gabriel told his grandmother and Ana Julia that he was going to play at his cousins' house nearby.
But the boy disappeared somewhere on the way from his grandmother's house to his cousins', only 100 metres apart. A huge search involving over 5,000 people was launched. It was the largest coordinated search for a missing person in the history of Spain.
Quezada even participated in the hunt for the boy and pretended to be distressed and contrite.
But at trial it was disclosed that she had, in fact, intercepted Gabriel when he left his grandmother’s house and took him to a remote farm in Rodalquilar to do some painting.
The court heard that Quezada "intentionally and suddenly" grabbed Gabriel and threw him against the floor or wall of the room and she forcefully covered the child’s mouth and nose causing death by suffocation.
After Gabriel's death, the defendant dug a grave and, since one of the boy's arms did not fit, she gave him several blows with an axe.
On 3 March 2018, with the intention of distracting attention in the search for the child and in order to direct suspicions about her former partner she placed one of Grabriel’s t-shirts on some bushes, in a remote and difficult to access reed bed.
Quezada then returned to the Rodalquilar farm on 11 March and dug up the boy's body, wrapped it in a towel and hid it in the boot of her car.
When she arrived at her home in La Puebla de Vícar she was stopped at the garage door by Guardia Civil officers who had been following her after suspicions were raised about her behaviour.
Two days later, the defendant confessed to the crime.