ARECIBO.- Adriana Rivera Andujar, lead witness in the case of the murder of Alexandra Cardona Torradomarried the suspect in the crime, Lemuel Cruz Cruz, and took refuge in the privilege of “wife witness” in order not to testify against her now husband, took place this Monday at the preliminary hearing before Judge Yadira Saavedra Pérez at the Arecibo Judicial Center.
the privilege witness spouse establishes -among other things- that “the married person has the privilege of not testifying against his/her spouse in any case”.
Rivera Andújar was a friend of Cardona Torrado. In 2020, after an incident of gender violence between the couple, Cardona Torrado gave shelter to her friend in her home. On June 24, 2020, inside a car on San Pablo Street, in San Rafael Urbanization, Arecibo, Cruz Cruz killed the 27-year-old.
Subsequently, Cruz Cruz fled Puerto Rico with his partner, who refused, at that time, to testify in the initial process to sue the individual. The man is currently in custody, having been arrested in May of this year at the airport before traveling from Puerto Rico to the United States. At that time, charges of first-degree murder and Gun Act violations were brought forward again.
According to new information, in December 2020, the couple got married in the state of New Jersey. The information was disclosed in a deposition to which she was subpoenaed. Rivera Andújar last Saturday at the Department of Justice, when the defendant’s wife refused to testify and invoked that privilege in the company of her legal representative, Ms. Mayra Lopez Mulero.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office, represented by the prosecutor Yamil Juarbewas unaware of this information, which he learned last Saturday in the deposition, and whose information was disclosed in a resolution that López Mulero brought to the court.
“I imagine that all of this was planned… I understand that this is a very unfair, extremely unfair law,” said Amarilis Torrado Morales, the victim’s mother, as she left the Arecibo Judicial Center.
“We hope that (the case) will be seen by a judge who thinks that (the victim) could be his daughter. What my daughter was doing was helping a childhood friend,” said José Cardona, Cardona Torrado’s father.
The victim’s parents remained in the room, looking several times at the screen with the zoomed transmission to which the accused of the crime was connected.
Upon questions from El Nuevo Día, they expressed their hope that the case would prosper. However, they reiterated their frustration with the unexpected turn of the case.
Anyone marries after committing a crime to prevent their partner from coming to testify. What is caused by this kind of privilege or application of that privilege is a failure of justice.
“This is evading justice, mocking justice. They must change the laws. Otherwise, everyone in Puerto Rico would marry to avoid justice,” added Cardona.
Meanwhile, Juarbe reiterated that this is “information” to which the Public Ministry has not had access.
“It’s news and new information that we didn’t have access to. When he was heard by the victim’s technician, he did not report his marital status,” he said.
“All the information we had was that they were a consensual couple and that they were living together in the state of New Jersey,” he added. “Anyone marries after committing a crime to prevent their partner from coming to testify. What is caused by that kind of privilege or enforcement of that privilege is a failure of justice,” she said.
Meanwhile, López Mulero – Rivera Andújar’s lawyer – indicated that “this was no secret, they have lived and lived together as husband and wife since they met, they have three small children, they got married after a prolonged coexistence of a few years on December 2020″.
On June 3, Rivera Andújar was transferred to Puerto Rico by agents from the Department of Justice’s Extradition Division. The woman was in the state of Florida at the time. Prior to that, he lived with the defendant in New Jersey.
While the 42-year-old defendant was arrested in May at Luis Muñoz Marín airport, as he was about to board a flight back to the United States.
In the case of Rivera Andújar, Juarbe filed a request for an urgent hearing to set bail under Rule 238 of the Criminal Procedure. This rule stipulates the mechanisms to guarantee the appearance of a material witness when there are reasons to believe that he will not appear in court, as would have occurred at the beginning of the judicial process in 2020.
Rivera Andújar received a $200,000 bond, which she did not pay, and was committed to the Bayamón Women’s Correctional Complex. However, at the request of her lawyer and without hesitation from the Public Ministry, Rivera Andújar would be released from prison today.
The defendant remains in Bayamón prison. On April 22, a judge determined the cause of the arrest in absentia and set a $2 million bond.
They review the August 12 preview
On August 12, at 1:30 pm, Rivera Andújar must appear to testify in the lawsuit against her partner.
“We are releasing you, but you still have an obligation to appear in court. If you do not appear, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest for contempt,” Judge Saavedra Pérez warned Rivera Andújar when she was taken to court.