A homicide investigation that resulted in the wrongful arrest of a well-known actor was riddled with errors that gave the real culprit time to escape, criminologists claim.
Argentine escort Karen Ailen Grodzinski, 23, was found dead in a Mexico City hotel room on December 27 after she was shot in the head.
A week later, on January 3, prosecutors arrested 27-year-old Mexican actor Axel Arenas for the homicide, saying that the pair had met at a local acting school.
The arrest supposedly followed accounts from employees at the hotel where Grodzinski was found that Arenas had stayed there with her.
The actor remained in custody for six days but was released Monday after his lawyers proved that he was not in the country when the murder occurred.
According to a report in the newspaper El Universal today, detectives stopped their investigation after Arenas was arrested because they believed that with a suspect in prison, the case would be closed.
The Mexico City Attorney General’s office (PGJ) failed in several other aspects of their investigation, El Universal reported.
One shortcoming is that detectives failed to collect additional evidence from the body of the woman, although their ability to do so was hindered.
The day after Grodzinski’s husband identified her body, he promptly arranged for the Argentine national to be buried without giving any notification to her family or friends. Two days later, family members of the deceased arrived in Mexico City with the intention of repatriating her body.
After they learnt that Grodzinski had already been interred following a private service, they expressed anger but didn’t argue with authorities and returned to Argentina.
At the same time, the PGJ was questioning the woman’s husband — identified only as Carlos Iván — about the speed with which he had acted but initially did not link him to the crime.
The man reportedly told authorities that he was a salesman in the notorious Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito and worked as a driver for ride-sharing service Uber in his spare time.
His relationship with Grodzinski lasted just over two years, during which Carlos Iván said that the pair “fell in love” and that the woman gave up working as an escort.
However, halfway through last year, the Argentine woman allegedly returned to the job, provoking an argument with her husband, only to quit again after she found out about the death of a Venezuelan woman known as Génesis, a friend and fellow escort.
She then reportedly found solace in the arms of her husband.
Now that Arenas has proven his innocence, El Universal reported that authorities are pursuing a new line of investigation and have not ruled out the possibility that the same person killed both Génesis and Grodzinski.
Carlos Iván allegedly met both of the women after contacting them through an adult escort website.
Criminologists and legal specialists who spoke to El Universal said that by wrongfully arresting Arenas and seemingly ruling out the possibility that another person had committed the crime, the PGJ had not only damaged its own credibility but given the real killer time to escape or even plan another crime.
“This is the problem of the lack of training of the agents, they still have the mindset of the old criminal system. First, they make an arrest and then they find out [what happened] and it ends in this error. What should be a great achievement for the institution is now an embarrassment that damages its credibility,” said Roberto Pimentel, a criminal law specialist at the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM).
Pimentel added that even though a judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Arenas, PGJ officers failed to corroborate the information they were given and said the error could have easily turned out worse than it ultimately did.
“We have to think that if the accused didn’t have the money to pay for a good lawyer or at that time he didn’t have the means or documents to prove that he was in another country on the day of the incident, it would be terrible and he would possibly still be in prison . . .” he said.
Criminologist Leonel Rodríguez said that the PGJ “must now act quickly and arrest the real culprit to show that they do know how to work and to recover the lost credibility.”
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera also weighed in on the case yesterday, saying that he wanted to know if investigation protocols had been followed and ordered Mexico City chief prosecutor Edmundo Garrido to carry out a review of the case.
If improper conduct is found to have occurred, an apology must be given to the victim’s family, he said.
Garrido was among investigators singled out by the Mexico City Human Rights Commission for a “deficient and poorly managed” investigation into a multi-homicide in 2015. He was named chief prosecutor two years later.
Source: El Universal (sp)