GUATEMALA CITY — A court in western Guatemala on Tuesday sentenced two men to 35 years each in prison in connection with the shooting death of an American tourist during a robbery of a crowded tour bus last year.
Henry Giovanny Vicente, 27, and Marvin Sebastian Berganza, 29, were convicted by a three-judge panel of being accomplices in the killing of Brett Richards, a 52-year-old architect from Ogden, who died during a confrontation with five or six bandits who hijacked a bus of tourists visiting Mayan ruins in January 2004.
The pair were also found guilty of robbery and injuring the Guatemalan bus driver, Filiberto Roca, who suffered a gunshot wound.
Richards' widow, Becky, testified at the start of the trial in August. Those traveling to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala's second-largest city, to take the stand included the victim's cousin, Patty Allen, and father Maurice, as well as Maurice's wife Patricia; Val and Marcella Morley of Provo; and tour guide Joe Allen.
None of the witnesses said which one of the suspects did the shooting.
"What really mattered were the testimonies of the family of Mormons who came from the United States to identify the accused," Alberto Molina, a prosecutor in Quetzaltenango, 125 miles west of the capital, Guatemala City, said via telephone.
Giovanny Vicente and Berganza were later arrested when they allegedly turned up on a store video using Val Morley's stolen credit card. But neither was believed to be the man who shot Richards, and prosecutors said before the start of the trial they believed the case was weak.
Both defendants were convicted as contributing to the killing of Richards, as well as the lesser charges, but not of actually carrying out the killing. Tuesday's announcement spelled out the mains reasons for the ruling, but full details will not be released for another week.
The attackers took control of the bus, drove it into the jungle, removed and robbed the tourists one by one, then forced them to lie face down on the ground before fleeing, according to testimony.
The bus assault happened on a highway between the cities of Coatepeque and Retalhuleu, about 160 miles southwest of the capital.