The judges of Oral Criminal Court No. 1 of Dolores ruled Monday that the killing of Fernando Báez Sosa was a homicide doubly aggravated by premeditation and malice aforethought, as requested by the prosecution.
In addition, Judges Claudia Castro, Christian Rabaina and Emiliano Lazzari rejected the "homicide in a quarrel" conviction requested by defence lawyer Hugo Tomei.
For the magistrates "there was a convergence of wills on the part of the accused, who, taking advantage of the state of defencelessness in which the victim was left after the first two blows, and with clear intentions of ending Fernando Báez Sosa's life, continued brutally assaulting him, mainly through violent kicks directed essentially to the head and others to the body, as well as punches, causing injuries of such an entity that caused his death."
Laying out the grounds for their ruling, the judges continued: "The presence of the accused was far from being a mere chance meeting; the plurality of participants reduced the number of acts of defence in favour of Fernando Báez Sosa, making the aggressors more dangerous, who also took advantage of the greater material ease that this panorama offered them to achieve their aim, and this was previously agreed."
In this way, the judges concluded that "the aggravating circumstance in question is applicable, that is, the aggravated homicide committed by the premeditated concurrence of two or more persons.”
With regard to the charge of malice aforethought, the judges argued that the victim "was defenceless and this circumstance was taken advantage of by the perpetrators to ensure the [end] result without taking any risks.”
The ruling continues: "From the time the victim fell to the ground as a result of the first blows – when most of his friends had left or had been removed from the place – until his death, he was in an absolutely defenceless state, since as a result of those first blows, he was left lying on the ground in a state of semi-consciousness that blocked any possibility of resistance.”
"These circumstances, added to the fact that the attack took place over a short period of time by a plurality of agents, who deployed their actions with unusual violence, constitute an accumulation of conditions that exclude any form of defence," the judges concluded.
Detailing their findings from a trial that included testimony from more than 100 witnesses, the judges said that the eight defendants had an “original plan,” to “Fernando Báez Sosa, attacking him while he was distracted, conversing with a group of friends. To this end, they organised themselves to beat him.”
According to the judges, this meant the accused had “an agreement of wills tending to achieve the objective pursued in common.”
In the reading of the sentence, the judges dismissed out of hand the argument put forward by defence lawyers that the attack could have been homicide in a quarrel, a premeditated homicide or a manslaughter with malice aforethought.
"There must be actions of attack and defence by the members of each group, that is, reciprocity of actions,” explained the judges. “In this sense, there is no quarrel when, as in the present case, the attack is by several against one (or against several subjects who remain passive), as there is no reciprocity of actions.”
Regarding pre-intentional homicide, the court said "the grounds put forward in addressing the second question of the verdict, the intention of the active subjects of the crime was aimed at causing the death of the victim, after the first two blows left him in a state of semi-unconsciousness".
Regarding the possibility of intentional homicide, the judges were also forthright. Defence lawyers had raised this third scenario as a further possibility, arguing that the defendants could have imagined that they could have caused Fernando's death with the blows they gave him and yet went ahead anyway with the assault. That crime carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison.
"In relation to the argument that there was no direct intent, this issue has been exhaustively addressed in the course of the verdict," said the judges, who recalled that the eight defendants had the common objective of killing Fernando from the beginning of the attack, and that they did so with premeditation and with malice aforethought by attacking him by surprise and continuing even when he was already lying helpless on the ground.