The Miami Herald
Oct. 15, 2002

Trial begins in slaying of family on Cuban road

  HAVANA - (AP) -- A band of people arrested in the killings of five people -- including a Hialeah Gardens couple -- late last year on a central Cuban highway went on trial Monday in Havana, police sources confirmed.

  The provincial court hearing was closed to news media. Most details were unknown, but the husband of one of the victims, Carlos García Leyva, who lives in the city of Santa Clara, told El Nuevo Herald by phone that the defendants numbered eight.

  Police officers stationed outside the court in the Diez de Octubre district confirmed only that the defendants were being tried in the December slaying of the five people and that the hearing would take several days.


  The crime was never reported in Cuba's state-controlled media, but most people here eventually learned about it from relatives and friends living outside the country or through sporadic access to foreign media reports.

  The five were gunned down and stabbed in Matanzas province Dec. 18 while traveling from Havana on the Ocho Vías highway to visit relatives in Santa Clara.
  Government sources at the time said the apparent motive was robbery.


  The couple, Ada Lorenzo, 52, and Celedonio Placencia, 62, had arrived in Havana from Hialeah Gardens earlier that day. They were Cuban natives with legal U.S. residency, who had fled on a raft in 1995.

  Also slain was their grandson, Daniel Osmani Placencia Pérez, 8, and their daughter, Yailén Placencia, 28, both of Cuba, and family friend Domingo Delgado.

  In Hialeah Gardens on Monday, Osmiel Vera said he and his wife Yisel, Yailén's twin sister, would not attend the trial.

  ''We were not invited and don't want to go,'' he said. ``We don't want to deal with anything related to the Cuban government and won't travel there while the current regime is in power.''

  El Nuevo Herald staff writer Wilfredo Cancio Isla contributed to this report.