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Monday, July 24, 2006

Von Richtofen case comes to a close

Suzanne Von Richtofen got 40 years for the killing of her parents. Daniel and Christian Cravinhos got the same sentence. Two stories below.

Brazilian trio get 40 years for slayings
By STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press WriterSat Jul 22, 8:05 AM ET
A wealthy young woman, her lover and his brother were convicted Saturday in the deaths her parents, a crime that riveted Brazil with a tale of love across rigid class lines. Each was sentenced to about 40 years in prison.
Manfred and Marisa von Richtofen were beaten to death at their home in a wealthy district of Sao Paulo on Oct. 30, 2002.
Manfred von Richtofen, the great nephew of the World War I German ace known as the Red Baron, and his wife disapproved of their daughter's relationship with Daniel Cravinhos, who is from a lower-middle-class family.
Prosecutors said Suzanne von Richtofen, Cravinhos, and his brother Christian plotted the murder because they wanted the couple's estate, valued at $920,000.
"The three, acting in cold-blooded fashion, plotted and carried out the murder of the von Richtofen couple out of greed," Chief Prosecutor Roberto Tardelli told the jury on Friday.
Prosecutors said Richtofen, 22, 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.
The house's library was ransacked to make it look like a break-in and Daniel Cravinhos and Richtofen went to a motel to fabricate an alibi, police said.
The brothers, who confessed to the crime, took some $7,000 from the house. Investigators were led to Christian Cravinhos when he purchased a motorcycle the day after the murder, paying for it with 36 $100 bills.
Richtofen was driven by a desire to "get her hands on the money and assets her parents had worked so hard to obtain," Tardelli said. She "wanted her freedom and her independence without having to work for it."
Defense attorneys were expected to appeal. Richtofen's lawyer, Mauro Octavio Nacif, tried to convince jurors that she did not orchestrate the killings.
"If Suzanne had not met Daniel, would her parents still be alive today?" he asked. "Of course they would. This crime was committed only because Daniel wanted to. He was the only one with a motive — money."
The lawyer for the Cravinhos brothers blamed Richtofen. "The only person responsible for all this is that young lady," Geraldo Jabur said, pointing to her.
More than 200 people packed the courtroom for the final session, which ended early Saturday.
During the five-day trial, Daniel Cravinhos, 25, and Christian, 30, claimed Richtofen persuaded them to kill the couple because she said her parents often mistreated her. Daniel Cravinhos said her father tried to sexually molest her, but Richtofen denied it.
Richtofen accused her estranged boyfriend of threatening to leave her if she did not help kill the couple.
"I couldn't resist his spell. He was like a God for me," said Richtofen, adding Daniel was her first lover.
"He once told me to imagine how wonderful it would be to live with him without the presence of my parents," she said. "A few months later, he told me the time had come to get rid of my parents, and if I didn't follow him, he would abandon me."

Brazil sentences woman for killing parents
Sat Jul 22, 11:10 AM ET
A former law student from a wealthy family has been sentenced to 39 years in prison for killing her parents in Brazil's most publicized murder trial in recent years.
The jury in a Sao Paulo court found Suzane von Richthofen, her boyfriend Daniel Cravinhos and his brother Cristian guilty of murdering her parents in October 2002.
All three have confessed to the crime.
In a city with one of the highest homicide rates in the world, this drama in a well-to-do family repeatedly grabbed media headlines for nearly four years.
Suzane, a 19 year-old law student at the time of the crime, let Daniel, 21, and Cristian, 27, into her parents' home in a middle-class neighborhood of Sao Paulo, prosecutors said.
The two brothers beat the parents, Marisia and Manfred von Richthofen, with an iron rod while they slept, they said. In addition, they were convicted of smothering the mother with wet towels and trash bags.
Prosecutors said the three committed the crime to take control of the Richthofen's belongings. Police said Suzane planned the murder because her parents had prohibited her relationship with Daniel.
Suzane's lawyers said Daniel persuaded her to participate.
Judge Alberto Anderson Filho sentenced Suzane and Daniel to 39 years in prison. Cristian was sentenced to 38 years, a spokesperson of the Sao Paulo court said.
The rulings are subject to appeal.
According to local press reports, Manfred von Richthofen, a naturalized Brazilian and an engineer, was the grandson of a brother of "Red" Baron Manfred von Richthofen of Germany, who shot down 80 enemy aircraft in World War I before being killed in action in 1918.

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