The trial of a Dominican woman accused of murdering her eight-year-old stepson in a case that shocked Spain opened on Monday in the southern city of Almeria.
Gabriel Cruz disappeared on February 27, 2018, after visiting his grandmother in Las Hortichuelas, a village near the coast 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Almeria.
His disappearance triggered a huge search involving hundreds of volunteers which lasted nearly two weeks.
But on March 11, the police discovered his body in the boot of a car belonging to Ana Julia Quezada, the long-term girlfriend of Angel Cruz, the boy’s father.
His body bore signs of asphyxiation, court documents showed, with a police spokesman saying Quezada had “admitted” to killing him.
The trial opened behind closed doors at the request of the family.
Quezada arrived at the courthouse in handcuffs. Her lawyers have said it was a case of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder, but prosecutors have called for a life sentence — a minimum of 25 years.
The murder shocked Spain, which has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world.
Before Gabriel’s body was found, his distraught parents had given countless tearful interviews and Quezada was also seen taking part in the search, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with his face and speaking to reporters in tears.
Investigators began to suspect Quezada after she found a shirt belonging to the boy near the village in an area which police had searched twice.
Following the arrest, Almeria police chief Juan Jesus Reina described her as “very cold” and “manipulative”.