Tegucigalpa (AFP) – A man who murdered Miss Honduras and her sister in a jealous rage will be given a prison sentence in June after a court on Thursday found him guilty of the 2014 double slaying.
Plutarco Antonio Ruiz, a 34-year-old Honduran, covered his mouth and squeezed his eyes shut as the jury in the Tegucigalpa courtroom declared him guilty of the murders of beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, 23.
The women were killed on November 13, 2014 and their bodies were found buried on the banks of a river six days later — on the date Maria Jose, the reigning Miss Honduras, was meant to have flown to London to compete in that year’s Miss World pageant.
Ruiz shot the sisters multiple times and then buried them with the help of accomplices, the court found.
He was the boyfriend of Sofia at the time and was said to have committed the crime out of jealousy because he saw one of the women dancing with a man during his birthday party the same night.
The judge will hand down Ruiz’s prison sentence at a June 2 hearing.
Ruiz faces up to 20 years for the murder of Maria Jose and up to 40 years behind bars for Sofia, after the jury decided the latter’s killing was feminicide, or a sex-based hate crime that carries a heavier penalty. He can be ordered to serve the sentences one after the other rather than concurrently.
“We are not happy. Both the cases were feminicide and we might put in an appeal,” the mother of the victims, Teresa Munoz, told AFP.
“Sofia was shot eight times and Maria Jose 16 times,” she said.
During his trial, on April 21, Ruiz had appeared distracted in court in a way resembling mental illness. But medical experts said he was pretending.
After his conviction on Thursday, armed and masked police escorted Ruiz out of the courtroom to a cell to await his sentencing.
<figure><figcaption>Police escort Plutarco Antonio Ruiz after he was found guilty of the 2014 murder of then Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, 23 <span>Copyright AFP ORLANDO SIERRA</span> </figcaption></figure>