The defendants were found guilty of murder with treachery, malice and kinship
A former resident of Lloret de Mar has received the maximum sentence of permanent, reviewable prison for murdering her two-year-old daughter in Zaragoza in 2021. The same sentence has fallen on the woman’s former partner, with whom she shared the home, the victim and her three brothers. The people’s court that tried the case at the end of last year found them guilty of the crime of murder with the aggravating factors of treason, carnage and kinship. The jury took into account the agony of the little girl, who died two days after receiving a fatal blow to the abdomen, and the more than a hundred wounds on her body from the beatings she had suffered for months.
The mother had already lost custody of another daughter due to abuse
The woman, Vanesa Muñoz Pujol, 31 years old, became a mother for the first time in Palma in December 2011 and from the beginning the social services detected that the girl was “at risk”. Due to the parents’ lack of cooperation, the minor was declared destitute and in July 2013 she was taken in by another family for more than a year. After leaving the island, the woman moved to Lloret de Mar and later to Zaragoza. At this stage he had three other children and the social services of Catalonia and Aragon also intervened with the minors. A year before the crime, a court returned the children to the accused, despite a report from Girona’s technicians that described her as “irretrievable” and exposed serious episodes of abuse reported by the children.
It took the defendants two days to notify emergency services
The event occurred in January 2021 in the Picarral neighborhood, in Zaragoza. The woman’s youngest daughter was kicked hard in the abdomen which ruptured her duodenum and caused acute peritonitis. Despite the fact that the minor’s situation worsened over the hours, with intense pain and fever, neither the accused nor her companion requested help until the following day. When they did it was too late and the doctors could only confirm the girl’s death.
The autopsy and investigation revealed the victim’s ordeal
The autopsy and the search by the National Police showed the ordeal the victim had lived through for months. The coroners counted 101 injuries on the minor’s body, 73 of them recent and 28 old. They also found the remains of various narcotic substances in the corpse. The agents, for their part, found on the phones of the two defendants hundreds of messages in which they talked about the abuse and the punishments inflicted on the girl. Those in charge of the Zaragoza Homicides group concluded that the girl suffered “a situation of physical and mental abuse continued over time with the consent” of the two defendants. Both were arrested days after the fact and have been in prison ever since.
The mother and stepfather blamed each other for the assaults on the girl
During the process held at the Provincial Court of Zaragoza, the mother and stepfather held each other responsible for the attacks on the girl. “He took the opportunity to hit my children when I was not at home. I did not see, at any time, a single kick. He left the house at six in the morning and only saw them to give them dinner and put them to bed,” said the woman. The man, for his part, attributed all the abuse to the child’s mother and argued that he did not report them because she threatened to accuse him of sexist violence.
The popular jury found them guilty of murder
The popular jury understood that the two defendants had the will to kill the little girl. The verdict declared proven that they caused him “a deliberate and unnecessary increase in suffering” and considered them authors of a crime of murder, appreciating the aggravating factors of treason, cruelty and kinship. The sentence of permanent imprisonment has been contested in the Superior Court of Justice of Aragon.
Laia, the murdered girl, was buried in Lloret de Mar a year and a half after the crime
Laia, the murdered girl, was buried in the Lloret de Mar cemetery in July 2022, a year and a half after she was murdered. For eighteen months, his body was in a cold room at the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Aragon. During this time, a legal battle developed between Manel Ardila, the girl’s father, and his ex-wife, then accused of the crime. The woman wanted the girl to be buried in the Aragonese capital and not in Lloret, where Manel and his family live. Initially, the investigating judge accepted the parricide’s request, but after an appeal, the Zaragoza Provincial Court allowed the girl’s body to be moved to Lloret. “There are reasons for sensitivity and humanity in the face of a request, that of Laia’s father, which does not cause any harm at this time (personal, social or procedural) and on the contrary allows the mourning of the parent and the girl’s close relatives to end dead in such sad circumstances”, said the sentence.