After nearly a year of prison without trial, prosecutors are further than ever in building a case against U.S. citizen David Strecker. Despite having made a show of arresting him in front of video cameras at the Juan Santamaria Airport on September 4th of 2015 there is not a shred of new evidence and the only physical evidence against him has now been discarded by prosecutors. However, last week despite a weak case prosecutors decided to double down on stupid and go to trial.
Dave is charged with three counts of promoting the country (Costa Rica) as a destination for accessible sex tourism. The entirety of evidence against Dave is a few selfie photos on Facebook and a video he made of himself, at a San Jose brothel that operates openly with license from the Municipality of San Jose to rent rooms to female prostitutes.
Prosecutors Discard Laptop and Cell Phone As Evidence
After an exhaustive examination of Dave’s cell phone and laptop, prosecutors determined there was no evidence on the devices that would warrant additional criminal charges. Of course handling digital evidence is beyond the capabilities of the OIJ, or Costa Rica Judicial Police. Although the OIJ has the modern forensics for examining human remains they lack the experience, professionalism and expert skills required to forensically analyze digital evidence.
Police conducted their examination of Dave’s devices by simply turning them on and browsing their contents. We know this was the case because the examination was conducted in the presence of his attorneys. By casually perusing the devices, the poorly trained investigators hopelessly contaminated the evidence by altering thousands of files on the devices and exposing them to the Internet.
At any rate, police examination of the devices revealed that Dave is exclusively a fan of adult women, many of whom live in Costa Rica. Clearly prosecutors had hoped that something more damning would have turned up on his laptop or cell phone camera. This was not the case and prosecutors are left with the task of making a case exclusively on the untested charge of promoting Costa Rica as a destination for consensual sexual relations with adult prostitutes.
Dave May Beat The Rap But He Didn’t Beat the Ride
When Dave was first arrested he apologized for having caused any problem or embarrassment and offered to leave the country and never return if prosecutors let him go. After almost a year of prison time Dave is still willing to just leave and count his time served. However, last week just before committing to trial prosecutors demanded a 12 year prison sentence for any plea agreement.
Clearly the demand is an unreasonable one, and would never have been asked for any 65 year old Costa Rican man in a similar situation. It reflects the racial prejudice, xenophobia and petty political agenda that now unfortunately passes for justice in Costa Rica. The Poder Judical is notoriously corrupt, influenced by petty politics and far from the doctrine of an independent judiciary that national leaders envisioned when they founded the modern republic in 1948. Imagine the hubris and fanatical political agenda that demands a 65 year old man face 12 years of prison time for posting photos and videos of himself on Facebook.
The Road Ahead
In March, Dave was moved from San Sebastian Prison to the Centro de Atencion de Adult Mayor. The move was a favorable change in Dave’s living conditions as his accommodations are comfortable, he receives 3 meals and 12 hours of yard time per day. Also, at age 65 Dave is one of the younger members of the low security facility.
Although Dave started his case with a private practice defense team, it became clear in the April time frame that he would not likely benefit by paying his attorneys $1,200 to attend pre-trial bond hearings once every two months. As a foreigner with no ties in Costa Rica the bond hearings are mere formalities and will continue to be summarily denied.
Seeing no possibility for pre-trial release, Dave made the decision to dismiss his legal counsel and wait for an actual trial. To date all of Dave’s legal expenses have been paid by generous donations. Now that a trial is inevitable and a plea agreement is impossible, Dave is now asking again for donations. He has just under $1,000 in his legal fund and private practice attorneys need a retainer of $5,000 to go to trial. Dave is committed to spending every penny on a court trial and hopes that with your help he can eventually go home to Key West and live the reminder of his life in peace and dignity.