The trial of a man who allegedly tortured, raped and then killed his young female neighbour is underway, with the prosecutor seeking a life sentence.
Bernardo Montoya allegedly tortured, raped and murdered Laura Luelmo, 26, in the municipality of El Campillo in the Spanish province of Huelva on 12th December 2018.
Almost three years after the alleged murder, Montoya’s trial got underway earlier today, 15th November, reported media outlet Telecinco.
Luelmo, who originally hailed from the municipality of Villabuena del Puente in the province of Zamora, had moved to El Campillo from the nearby town of Nerva to work as a plastic arts teacher.
She checked into a hotel in El Campillo on 4th December and moved into her new home on the 9th, just three days before her disappearance, according to media outlet El Pais.
Shortly after moving to the municipality, she told her boyfriend over the phone that everything was going well apart from the fact that one of her neighbours would look at her funny, reported media outlet La Razon.
Luelmo had no idea that the man, who was Montoya, had just been released from prison after having served a 17-year sentence for murder.
During a temporary release, he had allegedly tried to rape a hairdresser and, as a result, was banned from returning to his hometown of Cortegana for five years, so he settled in El Campillo, around 45 minutes away by car, just across the road from where Laura would end up moving.
According to the prosecutor, Montoya decided on 12th December to follow the young woman to the supermarket and then back to her house.
While she was nearing her home, he grabbed her and forced her into his house at around 5.30 pm. He then proceeded to beat her and tie her hands behind her back before raping her.
The suspect allegedly continued to beat her until she eventually died from a blow to the head from a blunt object after an estimated 78 minutes of suffering.
He then wrapped her semi-naked dead body up in a blanket and put it in the boot of his car before driving to the outskirts of the town and dumping the body in some bushes.
Luelmo’s body was found on 17th December following an extensive search.
Montoya was arrested the day after her body was found and he has since been in custody while awaiting his now ongoing trial.
The suspect initially confessed to the crime, but is now pleading innocent, having given some four different versions of events, according to El Pais.
The prosecutor is seeking a life sentence for Montoya not only for murdering Luelmo but also for charges relating to kidnapping and sexual assault.
The prosecutor said that the suspect subjected his victim to an intense and unnecessary level of suffering.
In addition to a prison sentence, Montoya could also be required to pay EUR 300,000 (GBP 255,934) in compensation to Laura’s parents and EUR 50,000 (GBP 42,655) to each of her siblings.
Several expert witnesses are expected to give testimony in the coming week, with the verdict expected on 19th November.