Archive for Saturday, May 4, 2002

Lawyer visits with Costa Rican suspect

May 4, 2002


— When Pedro Irigonegaray went Friday to talk with Katia Vanessa Cruz, he was going to ask her about the earrings.

Cruz, jailed since November in connection with the slaying of Shannon Martin, may know something about how a pair of gold, pear-shaped earrings that belonged to Martin wound up at a Golfito pawn shop the day after the Kansas University student was killed there.

"I think there are some strong indicators that suggest that a motive should be able to be proven," said Irigonegaray, a Topeka lawyer helping Martin's mother on her quest to bring the killers to justice.

Irigonegaray also planned to show Cruz photos that portray Martin's love for her family, friends and Costa Rica.

Martin's mother, Jeanette Stauffer, said she hoped the photos  including a picture of the earrings  would help persuade Cruz to talk about what happened and who was involved. So far, the 27-year-old has refused to help investigators.

"I want Katia Cruz to see pictures of Shannon, and say 'Why did you have to kill my daughter?' And even answering that won't justify it," Stauffer said.

Although Irigonegaray did eventually visit with Cruz in custody, along with a defense attorney, a county attorney and a federal officer in charge, he declined to say what happened during the visit.

On their visit to Golfito, where KU has a study abroad program, and San Jose, the Costa Rican capital where Cruz is imprisoned, Stauffer, her husband and Irigonegaray have solidified their belief that Martin was killed by three people, and that robbery was the motive. Investigators have said they think Cruz and two men could be responsible.

"They were three people waiting for her, she struggled very hard, and nobody came to her rescue," Stauffer said. "She knew they were killing her."

In Golfito, where the killing occurred, signs informing locals of a $50,000 reward were posted on trees, buildings and houses. The signs urge anyone with information to come forward, and stress that "killers are still out there."

"There's a province called Puntarenas where people believe the suspects might be," Stauffer said, "and there is hope that informants will come forward."

Stauffer and her husband Friday morning left Costa Rica to return home to Topeka.

Irigonegaray, too, remains hopeful the mystery of Martin's slaying will be solved in the near future. By May 2003, the case must be taken to court. Cruz, for now the sole key to the truth, must be formally charged with the crime or released by that date.

Even without justice, Stauffer said she had gained some peace of mind during the trip.

"For the first time, I no longer have to keep on top of what is going on," she said. "I don't have to keep e-mailing to OIJ, the FBI, the U.S. embassy, because they are on top of things and know what's going on."

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