THE most gruesome and emotional trial of the year is taking place this week in Valencia.
Maria and Gabriel, a couple from Godella (Valencia Province), are in the dock facing accusations of beating their two young children to death and burying their bodies in the back garden.
Exactly what happened on the night of March 13, 2019 is still a mystery for investigators, although everything suggests that either or both defendants murdered young Amiel, aged three, and Ixchel, six months old, in some kind of obscure ritual.
As reported at the time by The Olive Press, the crime took place in a country home that the couple had occupied illegally on the outskirts of town since 2017.
The alarm was raised by Maria’s mother, who received a text message from her daughter the night before saying goodbye and thanking ‘the Creator’ for everything.
Police found Maria naked and hiding inside a barrel the day after the killings, before leading officers to where she admitted having buried her children only hours earlier.
Autopsies revealed that both Amiel and Ixchel had been killed by repeated blows to the head, either with a heavy object or against the floor.
Maria claims that she interred the bodies after finding them already dead, while Gabriel counters that he was asleep while his partner committed the murders and did not know anything about it until the next day.
Traces of blood belonging to Ixchel were found by the side of the swimming pool and on Maria’s jacket, whereas there is no biological evidence linking Gabriel to the killings.
However, it is suggested that the father could have organised a ritual involving the children. A series of documents alluding to human sacrifices were found at the scene of the crime and are thought to have been written by Gabriel.
Both defendants are said to share an unspecified mystical or religious belief. In the trial that began this week, Maria claims that her partner had been trying to convince her for some time that a paedophile sect was after their children and planned to kill the parents because ‘they knew too much’.
Psychological profiles on both defendants revealed that Maria was enthralled by Gabriel and believed him to be a messianic, Jesus-like figure, while the father was ‘a strong and domineering personality’ that is thought to have mistreated his partner and children.
The mother is said to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia that was misdiagnosed as anxiety just weeks before the crime.
Investigators have established that she underwent an acute episode on the night of the killings, meaning she cannot be formally accused of murder, although the prosecution is asking for 25 years’ internment in a psychiatric hospital.
Meanwhile, Gabriel is facing 50 years in prison – 25 for the alleged killing of each child, with the aggravating circumstance of being directly related to the victims – after he was not found to suffer from any kind of mental illness.
The prosecution is also demanding the payment of €300,000 each to the grandparents of the children.
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