ANA Julia Quezada surprised little Gabriel while on his way to play with friends near his grandmother’s house in Nijar on February 27 last year.
The step-mum convinced the eight-year-old to get into her car by telling him she needed help painting a house on a nearby family estate that she and her partner Angel Cruz -the boy’s father – had been renovating.
But once they arrived, she grabbed the ‘innocent and trusting boy’ and ‘beat him violently and repeatedly, and covered his nose and mouth with her hands until he died from asphyxiation.’
That is the chilling account heard in Judge Dodero’s opening statement yesterday, where the monstrous accusations were read out loud for the court.
According to prosecutors, Quezada then dug a grave with a spade that she had brought to the property days earlier and dumped Gabriel’s body inside.
However when his left arm would not fit, she tried to cut it off with a hatchet, but she was not strong enough, only managing to break the bones.
The twisted killer, from the Dominican Republic, would then play the part of the worried step-mum when Gabriel was reported missing later that day.
She cried for the cameras and let police roll out one of the biggest searches in Spanish history, while thousands volunteered to help find him, all the while knowing he was dead and buried.
Investigators did not believe her grief-stricken act and quickly decided to have her followed.
After 12 days, she unwittingly led them to the body when she decided to move the corpse into the trunk of her car.
She was ambushed as she drove away and later confessed.
Now a jury of seven men and two women will decide her fate at the trial in the provincial court of Almeria.
The trial is scheduled to take place over nine sessions between September 9 and 19, and will determine the sentence that will be handed down to Quezada.
The parents of the boy and the public prosecutor are calling for Quezada to receive the maximum sentence.
This is known as reviewable permanent imprisonment, which lets judges convict criminals to life with a possibility of parole after a minimum fixed term in the most heinous of cases.
The public prosecutor also wants Quezada to be sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison for two crimes of inflicting psychological harm on Gabriel’s parents.
Quezada’s defense lawyer, Esteban Hernández Thiel, is arguing reckless homicide, or at the most, intentional homicide.
In her version of events, Quezada claims she acted in self-defense after Gabriel got angry with her.
The killer says he attacked her with a hatchet and that she managed to hit him with the blunt part of the tool, which left him unconscious.
In a state of panic, she claims, she strangled him with her hands, took his clothes off and buried him.
She would later plant his t-shirt in a search area in a bid to deflect attention.
Quezada is believed to have given her testimony at the hearing yesterday, while the parents of Gabriel will appear today.
Some 17 witnesses, 22 expert witnesses and 25 experts have been called to testify.