Hotel watchman sentenced to 16 years for killing South Florida tourist in Costa Rica
Carla Stefaniak, who had traveled to Costa Rica to celebrate 36th birthday, found dead in December 2018
SAN JOSE – A hotel watchman has been convicted of killing a Florida tourist staying at an Airbnb lodging in Costa Rica and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
The court in Pavas found on Monday that Bismark Espinoza Martínez had taken advantage of his position at the Villa Le Mas hotel in Escazu to enter the rooms where Carla Stefaniak was staying and to kill her.
Stefaniak, an insurance agent from Hallandale Beach, Florida, had come to Costa Rica to celebrate her 36th birthday. She had checked into the small hotel on Nov. 27 and had been scheduled to fly home the next day.
Her buried body was found on Dec. 3, 2018. An autopsy revealed that Stefaniak suffered a blunt force wound to the head and cuts on the neck and arms.
The hotel was fined the equivalent of about $53,000 for the incident.
Costa Rican prosecutors had asked for an 18 year sentence while Stefaniak's family had sought the maximum penalty, 50 years.
A witness testified that Martínez had confessed to the crime and police said he had lied about the victim having left the hotel on Nov. 28.
Martínez was absolved of robbery charges connected to the case.
An earlier version incorrectly stated a fine was imposed on Airbnb. The fine was imposed on the hotel.
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