Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Brazilian heiress, ex-lover sentenced for parents' murder


A wealthy young woman, her estranged lover and his brother were each found guilty of murder and sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison, after they accused each other of plotting the brutal kill-ings of her parents in a sensational trial.

The case mesmerized Brazilians with its tale of love across rigid class lines. More than 200 spectators packed the courtroom early on Saturday as a jury convicted Suzane von Richtofen, her former lover Daniel Cravinhos and his brother Christian in the killing of Manfred and Marisa von Richtofen as they slept at home in a wealthy district of Sao Paulo on Oct. 30, 2002.

Judge Alberto Anderson Filho sentenced Suzane and Daniel to 39 years and six months each in prison. Christian was sentenced to 38 years and six months because the judge considered he played a slightly smaller role in the killing, according to Chief Prosecutor Roberto Tardelli.

Defense lawyers were expected to appeal.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 50 years in prison for each suspect. A new trial would have been automatically sched-uled if the sentences reached 40 years for each. Under Brazilian law no one can serve more than 30 years in prison regardless of the sentencing.

The brothers have confessed they beat the couple to death, and Tardelli said Suzane was the "mastermind" of the crime, which he said was committed out of greed because they wanted the Richtofens' estate.

Manfred von Richtofen, 49, was an engineer and the great nephew of the World War I German ace known as the Red Baron, and his wife was a psychologist. The couple, with assets calculated at 2 million reals (US$920,000), disapproved of their daughter's relationship with Cravinhos, who is from a lower-middle-class family.

"The three, acting in cold-blooded fashion, plotted and carried out the murder of the von Richtofen couple out of greed," Tardelli told the jury on Friday.

Prosecutors say that on Oct. 30, 2002, Suzane let the brothers into the house late at night and checked to make sure her parents were sleeping. Then the brothers sneaked into the bedroom and bludgeoned them to death with iron bars.

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