The brutal murder of the model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

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The 20-year-old was murdered in February 2013 and, although there are three convicted, the mystery continues about what happened the morning of the crime

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the classification of femicide in Ecuador

By

Yalilé LoaizaFrom Quito

The brutal murder of the model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

The disappearance and murder of Karina del Pozo caused a great social commotion. Sit-ins and marches were held demanding justice.

At only 20 years old, Karina del Pozo, an Ecuadorian model, born in QuitoHe was the victim of a heinous crime. Her disappearance and her murder prompted the classification of femicide in Ecuador's criminal law. Three men were sentenced in her case, however, nine years after her death, there are still contradictory versions and events that have not been clarified. One of the condemned assures that he is innocent.

Karina del Pozo was born in 1993 and lived in Quito with her two brothers. Her parents had passed away when she was a child. On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, the young woman left her house to collect the settlement of a former job at the Ministry of Labor. She would then leave her resume in various places with the intention of getting a new job.

The last time her family saw her alive, Karina was dressed in black and had a necklace with an owl pendant around her neck.

That morning, Karina met a friend, Maria Cecilia Rivera Ortiz. Both dedicated themselves to leaving their folders in different places. Late in the afternoon, the two young women met, in a bar in the city, with Juan Pablo Vaca, a young man who was dating Karina.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the definition of femicide in Ecuador

Karina del Pozo was a 20-year-old model who was murdered in Quito.

Vaca would have promised to take Karina home, but that night she insisted on leaving the bar and going to her department, 4 kilometers from the place where they were. It was around 7 pm when Karina and María Cecilia decided to accept Vaca's invitation.

The three arrived at a building in the Granda Centeno sector, in the north center of Quito. Vaca called four of his friends who joined the meeting: David Piña, José Antonio Sevilla, Nicolás León and Manuel Salazar .

The youth meeting extended. It was around one thirty in the morning when Manuel Salazar offered to drop everyone off at his house. According to the versions of the case, the group was drunk, some more affected than others. A couple of them would have smoked marijuana.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the classification of femicide in Ecuador

The five young people who They were in the vehicle where Karina del Pozo was traveling the night of her murder.

At 02 in the morning, María Cecilia was the first to arrive at her home, according to the GPS record of Manuel Salazar's truck. The second to get out of the vehicle was Nicolás León, barely 15 minutes after María Cecilia.

Karina del Pozo and David Piña, who were in the back seat, and José Antonio Sevilla and Manuel Salazar, who occupied the driver's and co-pilot's seats.

On the morning of Wednesday, February 20, 2013, Karina's older brother, Milton del Pozo , noticed that the young woman did not come home. He called her cell phone, but she didn't answer. Karina was missing.

The disappearance

The complaint for the disappearance of the Quito model entered the State Attorney General's Office on February 21. The first to give their versions of what happened that night were María Cecilia and Nicolás. Both said that they did not know what happened to Karina, because they arrived home while Karina was still in the vehicle with Piña, Salazar and Sevilla.

The brutal murder of the model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

The last time Karina del Pozo was seen alive, she was dressed in black and wore a necklace with an owl pendant around her neck. This accessory was the first to be found in the place where her body was abandoned

A day later, on February 22, Manuel Salazar and José Sevilla came to testify. The two young men, Manuel, 20, and José, 21, said that, at one point on the journey after leaving María Cecilia and Nicolás, Karina got out of Salazar's car and took a taxi.< /p>

David Piña was the last to present his version of that night. He did it on February 23. Piña said that he was drunk and that he did not remember what happened that morning . The young man also said that Karina had taken a taxi. Despite that first statement, when the case came to trial, Piña said that she did not remember Karina taking a taxi, that she had no memory of that night and that she gave that version –about the taxi– due to pressure from the officer who took his statement.

The three young people initially maintained that Karina got out of Salazar's truck and took a taxi on Avenida Brasil, a road artery in northern Quito.

Seven days later Karina's confusing disappearance on February 27, the company that had access to the GPS of Salazar's truck reported that, in the early hours of February 20, the vehicle was in Llano Chico, north of Quito, 9 kilometers from where the young people were gathered. When the authorities went to the scene, they found the body of Karina del Pozo.

The brutal murder of the model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

Members of the team of rescue that found the body of Karina del Pozo in a ravine northeast of Quito.

Police agents found Karina's body in a ravine between Llano Chico and Llano Grande. The first thing the officers found was the owl necklace that Karina was wearing when she left her house. The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition. According to medical-legal examinations, Karina died in the early hours of February 20.

The report revealed that Karina had multiple fractures in her skull , her fingernails were covered with dirt, she had stained brain hemorrhage, she showed signs of sexual abuse, she had been hit with a stone on the head and she had been strangled< /b>: “The body had a 13cm by 11cm fracture between the vault and the base of the skull. The lower jaw was dislodged from the upper jaw and the left eye was absent”, reads the forensic report.

Upon finding the body, the authorities filed charges against María Cecilia Rivera, Manuel Salazar, David Piña, Nicolas León and José Sevilla.

A day later, Karina was buried.

The contradictory versions

With the formulation of charges, the young people began to speak and changed their initial version, that which claimed that Karina took a taxi on Avenida Brasil.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

David Piña, Manuel Salazar and José Sevilla at the time of their arrest in the Karina del Pozo case. All three were sentenced to 25 years in prison for the crime. (The Universe)

For example, Manuel Salazar said that it was Piña who told him how to get to Llano Chico, the place where Karina was murdered. José Sevilla also told another story and said that he did not remember what happened in Salazar's truck because he was drunk and added an important detail, according to Sevilla, he and Karina had consensual sexual relations while they were at the meeting in Juan Pablo Vaca's apartment.

In his new versions, Salazar also said that he tried to tell his mother what happened that morning. The GPS in Salazar's truck recorded a visit to his mother's house at 4 a.m. According to the young man, Piña threatened to attack his family if he spoke. However, this version was not linked to the process.

Salazar blamed Piña for the crime and assured that the young man, who practiced martial arts, “attacked and killed Karina, while he stayed in the car. In addition, according to Salazar's version, Piña would have asked him: “ Do you want to see how a whore is killed? ” before hitting Karina with a stone and leaving her body.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the classification of femicide in Ecuador

David Piña was sentenced to 25 years in prison as the author of the murder of Karina del Pozo.

For his part, David PiñaEven today, he insists that he fell asleep because he was extremely drunk and that he doesn't remember what happened that morning. Piña has assured that pressure from Corporal Oswaldo Aimacaña, who took the first statement from him, forced him to support Salazar and Sevilla's version that Karina got into a taxi.

Some of the witnesses who testified in the case pointed out that Juan Pablo Vaca, 30, wanted Karina and also a 13-year-old girl. Others said that José Sevilla was known for his fame as a “drug user and rapist”. Karina's closest friends declared that they were surprised that the young woman had been with María Cecilia Rivera and Juan Pablo Vaca, since she was not a friend of any of them.

María Cecilia and Nicolás were removed from the case, but David Piña, as author, Manuel Salazar and José Sevilla, as co-authors, were sentenced, in October 2013, to 25 years in prisonfor the murder of Karina del Pozo and the payment of USD 20,000 in reparation to the young woman's relatives.

The confusing events of the case

David Piña, now 34 years old, was convicted of the murder. The young man who was transferred to the Latacunga prison, 100 kilometers from Quito, was raped by four inmates from that prison, who were later sentenced to 29 years in prison for the assault against the young man.

Piña has assured on multiple occasions that he is innocent and there is even a part of public opinion that believes in his version, since there are inconsistencies in the case that have not yet been clarified.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

The lawyer Paúl Ocaña and David Piña.

The statements of Manuel Salazar and José Sevilla were contradictory. According to forensic examinations carried out in March 2013, a few weeks after Karina's death, the young woman's blood and saliva coincided with that found in Salazar's vehicle.

The raids that were carried out on the case found that the sheets, clothes and shoes of José Sevilla and Manuel Salazar had traces of earth and mud equal to those found on Karina's body. Piña's defense assures that the young man came to his house before the crime. Even in 2021, David Piña's lawyer will ask an investigator to compare the dirt from the place where the victim's body was found and the one found on his shoes.

Piña's defense also ensures that a woman's hair was found on Karina del Pozo's hand, so there would be one implicated in the crime that has not been considered.

During the trial, Salazar and Sevilla pleaded guilty and their psychological reports revealed that they had psychopathic profiles and of users of drugs.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the definition of femicide in Ecuador

Relatives, friends and Citizens in general joined the sit-ins to demand justice for the murder of Karina del Pozo. (El Universo)

On the other hand, David Piña, his lawyers and people who defend his innocence, assure that he was convicted based on the version of the other two involved, since no evidence was ever found against him. Piña's psychological profile would show that he did not have violent behavior.

While the sentence in the case was being read, Piña was the only one who cried inconsolably, according to the blog of Katy Rosales, which follows the stories of various crimes committed in the country.

In an interview with Rosales, David Piña assured that the justice system ruled against him due to the media and political pressure surrounding the case, since the disappearance and the murder of Karina del Pozo caused a strong social commotion.

I was sentenced with half of Salazar's version, one of which was changed seven times in the trial, including extensions, but the court is emphatic in ruling where It says that thanks to half of Salazar's version they helped to clarify the facts and they put me as the perpetrator of the crime without any evidence against me, “said Piña.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the criminalization of femicide in Ecuador

David Piña has defended his innocence and assures that he was convicted without evidence, solely based on the testimony of another person involved. (Browse)

The young man assures that it is unfair that Salazar and Sevilla have been convicted as co-perpetrators when there is evidence against them such as “psychological tests, Karina's DNA on her clothes, in the truck, in the places they went and the memory card from Kari's cell phone in her wallet.” According to Piña, he is the victim of “a kidnapping by the State” because it can be shown that he was not at the scene of the crime, but “the Prosecutor's Office never did anything.”

In April 2022, a judge partially accepted a habeas corpus actionin favor of David Piña, without this modifying his sentence or allowing him to serve his sentence in freedom. In the judge's resolution, Piña is ordered to receive psychological therapy for the sexual abuse he suffered in 2015 and to be transferred to health centers to receive care, as many times as necessary.

The lawyer Paúl Ocaña, who handles Piña's case, told Teleamazonasthat “based on this, we have filed the appeal before the Provincial Court, to continue with our arguments and wait for the request to be heard. Justice has once again ruled against David Piña.”

The classification of femicide

When Karina del Pozo was murdered, the femicide still It was not typified in Ecuadorian criminal law, despite the fact that several women's defense organizations had already pointed out the need for this crime to be included in the country's regulations.

The brutal murder of model Karina del Pozo, the crime that prompted the classification of femicide in Ecuador

The classification of femicide in the Ecuadorian criminal code it occurred months after the sentence in the case of Karina del Pozo. (Photo: Asfadec).

José Luis del Pozo, Karina's cousin, in April 2013, presented a bill to the National Assembly to sanction femicides. The proposal was named after Karina del Pozo.

In 2014, a few months after the three youths were sentenced, the Ecuadorian Congress approved reforms to the Organic Code Comprehensive Penal and typified femicide as the crime in which a person “as a result of power relations manifested in any type of violence, kills a woman because of being a woman or because of her gender.” Femicide in Ecuador is punishable by a prison sentence of twenty-two to twenty-six years.

The case of Karina del Pozo has been studied due to the social repercussions it generated and the treatment she received. the media gave the disappearance and murder of the young woman from Quito, as misogynistic and sexist stereotypes were reproduced that attributed the blame to the victim.

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