An Ecuadorean man was convicted of premeditated murder Monday in last year's bludgeoning killings in Massachusetts of a woman and her toddler son in a case that upset U.S. prosecutors because Ecuador insisted on trying the man in his homeland.
He likely would have faced a far stiffer penalty in the United States.
Under Ecuadorean law, the three-judge court that convicted Luis Guaman can sentence him to between 16 and 25 years in prison for the February 2011 murder in Brockton, Massachusetts, of Maria Palaguachi and her son Brian Caguana.
Sentencing is set for later this week, and Guaman's attorney said he would appeal the verdict.
U.S. prosecutors had sought to extradite Guaman to the United States, where they said they would have sought life in prison without parole. But their petition was denied because, despite an extradition treaty, Ecuador's new constitution bans the extradition of its citizens.
Earlier Monday, before the verdict was issued, the local district attorney in Massachusetts, Timothy Cruz, called the Ecuador trial "a sham."
"He is an individual who is violent," Cruz said of Guaman. "He murdered a 25-year-old mother and a 2-year-old ... by beating them to death with a sledgehammer, then throws them away in a dumpster."
A few days after the bodies were discovered, Guaman was on a flight from New York City to Ecuador, Cruz said.
Cruz said that when he filed an extradition request for Guaman, he filed an affidavit outlining the evidence that Massachusetts prosecutors have against Guaman. But he said he had not cooperated or provided Ecuadorean prosecutors with evidence because they refused to extradite Guaman.
"Quite honestly, I don't know what they're using as evidence," he told The Associated Press.
In all, eight hearings were held in the case, including one Monday in which witnesses who testified included a sister of Palaguachi and the father of the slain toddler testified. The verdict was issued a few hours later.
In her testimony, Dolores Palaguachi said she believed Guaman, 42, killed her sibling because she refused his advances.
Guaman "relentlessly pursued my sister. He wanted her, and I believe that's why he killed her," she said.
Manuel Caguana, who was described by Ecuadorean prosecutor Rocio Polo as the father and husband of the victims, testified from Ecuador's consulate in Massachusetts via video. He said he was out of town looking for work when the two disappeared.
Following the testimony, Polo asked for the maximum sentence of 25 years, saying Guaman is a violent man who tried to strangle a former spouse in 2007.
Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Boston, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.