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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Woman found guilty of the contract murder of her stepmother

Hilda Padilla Romero

By The Star Staff

After a trial that lasted almost two years, Judge Mariela Miranda found Keishla Pérez Bigio guilty of agreeing and paying $1,500 to two subjects to murder her stepmother, businesswoman Hilda Padilla Romero, it was reported Tuesday.

“Finally justice was done for Hilda and her family. It has been an arduous and extensive process, but it finally concluded with the expected result,” Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández stated in a written communication upon learning of the decision of the Court of First Instance in Bayamón. “Those responsible for the vile crime were found guilty and will face the consequences of their actions. My total solidarity with Hilda’s relatives. I hope they can live in peace and recover from the deep wounds left by the crime. They have the full support of the Department of Justice.”

Padilla Romero was shot on Sept. 30, 2019, while she was driving along Los Filtros Avenue in Guaynabo accompanied by her two daughters, ages 8 and 17. The minors were unharmed.

The joint Police Bureau-Bayamón Prosecutor’s Office investigation revealed that Pérez Bigio hired William Avilés González and Luis González Martínez to murder her stepmother after having several violent confrontations with her. The main charge was demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt by prosecutors Iván Rivera Labrador, Carmen Iris Ortíz Rodríguez and Gracielis Vega Bermúdez, who presented vast testimonial, documentary and expert evidence to prove first-degree murder against Pérez Bigio and Avilés González. The latter was also found guilty of a charge of violation of the Puerto Rico Weapons Law. The judge did not determine guilt on the charges of attempted murder against the minors.

González Martínez confessed to the facts and reached an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office to testify against the other two defendants. He subsequently decided not to testify at the trial. However, the Prosecutor’s Office managed to use the testimony he offered during the preliminary hearing stage, after his being declared an unavailable witness. González Martínez is being prosecuted in a separate trial.

The Prosecutor’s Office also prevailed, despite the opposition of the defense, for the court to admit as evidence three audio recordings of Pérez Bigio, taken from González Martínez’s cell phone, which confirmed the conspiracy to kill Padilla Romero. Pérez Bigio’s voice was identified at the trial by Yaireishka Morales Padilla, the victim’s daughter.

The sentencing hearing was scheduled for Feb. 9, 2024.

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