Francisco Javier Almeida López de Castro, arrested on Thursday for the death of a child in Lardero (La Rioja), has spent half of his 54 years in prison. In 1993 he was jailed to serve a seven-year sentence for sexual assault. Four years later, in May 1997, he was released from prison. However, that regained freedom would last only 15 months. At the end of August 1998 he was arrested and imprisoned again. On this occasion, for raping and murdering a real estate agent, whom he stabbed when he showed her a flat in Logroño that Almeida had pretended he wanted to acquire.
For the call real estate crime, a jury found Almeida guilty and he was convicted in 2000 of treacherous murder (20 years) and sexual assault (10 years). The man was admitted to serve this last sentence in the Cantabrian prison of El Dueso. There, according to a worker at the center who coincided with him, he showed “exemplary” behavior. “He worked as an orderly, in the laundry … and never gave a problem,” he adds. In this prison, he was close to 22 years, almost the entire sentence he served for that crime. In this period, he enjoyed 39 exit permits granted by the judge without registering any incident, according to prison sources.
His transfer to the Logroño prison occurred in February 2020, after being classified in third degree penitentiary or semi-release. The treatment board of the Cantabrian prison (a body made up of penitentiary professionals) had proposed among discrepancies that it continue in second degree, the ordinary, but the inmate asked to review this decision and Penitentiary Institutions agreed.
It was the last of the three requirements set by Article 90 of the Penal Code that he still had to fulfill to request conditional release, after having served three-quarters of his sentence long ago (he did so in 2017) and observing good behavior. In the spring of last year, three years before the sentence was extinguished, a judge agreed to his release from prison. The decision was not appealed by the Prosecutor’s Office, according to judicial sources, and became effective on April 8. A year and a half later, Almeida has been arrested again. This time, for the death of little Alex.
The judgment of the Superior Court of Justice of La Rioja that, in April 2000, confirmed that ruling ruled out that Almeida suffered “any psychic alteration that limits his volitional and discerning capacity” when he killed the woman, contrary to what he alleged in his appeal, in which he affirmed that he suffered from a psychic anomaly – a supposed sexual paraphilia – that forced him to act like this. The sentence of the Riojan high court also dismantled the image that the now detainee tried to give of himself then to reduce the seriousness of his crimes and, thus, lessen the penalty. The magistrates highlighted that Almeida denied after his arrest that he had killed the victim and that, in fact, he did not confess his responsibility until the day of the trial, two years later. The sentence also highlights that it then offered a “false” version of events.
In that appeal, the detainee even asked that what happened be considered a homicide (which carries a penalty less than murder) and that the conviction for sexual assault be eliminated. To do this, he affirmed that the two knives that caused the death of the woman had been given to her during a struggle, without premeditation. And that only once dead, did he cause the other 17 incisions that the corpse presented. In addition, he reduced sexual assault to “touching.” Coroners and police officers dismantled her version at the trial and detailed how, in reality, she had acted “with particularly offensive violence for the victim,” and that the sexual assault occurred while she was still alive.
That 2000 sentence also established, in application of article 76 of the Penal Code, which determines the maximum time of compliance, that, despite the fact that the penalties for both crimes added up to 30 years, he could not be imprisoned for more than 25 years.
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