On Friday, Dave Strecker walked out of a prison in Costa Rica, a free man, acquitted by a trial court in San Jose. Judicial authorities have 15 days to appeal the court’s decision. Dave is expected to remain free, even if he must face a third trial. A resolution is expected by August 24th.
When Dave was originally arrested in September of 2015, Judicial authorities issued a press release with photos of his computer and cell phone as alleged evidence. Authorities also made a video of his arrest at the Juan Santamaría airport. However, since the acquittal the Ministerio Público has remained silent.
According to daily AM Costa Rica,
The acquittal, if it sticks, is a major embarrassment for Costa Rica’s judiciary. The law, passed in February 2013, violated most international standards on free speech. The Poder Judicial has confirmed that the Fundación Rahab was the organization that initiated the criminal case. Fundación Rahab has been the recipient of a number of federal grants for work with prostitutes in San José and Jacó.
When asked about his feelings on the case, Dave thanked the supporters who donated money to help with legal fees. He regrets missing his mother’s funeral, who passed away while he was in prison. He regretted that his friend Dennis Eaton also died of cancer. Dennis collected the donations via Paypal and brought food to Dave while he was imprisoned at the San Sebestian prison.
Dave is also very grateful of the representation and support of his attorney, Luis Diego Chacón Bolaños who took over the case when the financial support was no longer available.
Dave’s Legal Struggle
When Dave was arrested in September of 2015, he was represented by a private practice attorney who focused on securing Dave’s release from preventative detention. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and Dave was imprisoned in Costa Rica for a total of 433 days, without formal charges or trial. When Dave’s friend Dennis left Costa Rica to die the financial support and private legal defense were no longer available. A public defender took over the case, and encouraged Dave to plead guilty and accept a 12 year prison term.
Having heard about the case through social media, Lic. Diego Chacón contacted Dave while in prison, and offered his legal services without payment. He convinced Dave that the evidence against him was faulty and recommended going to trial. Although the first trial court returned a guilty verdict, Diego wrote an appeal that overturned the conviction and got Dave a second trial.
Worried that Dave may spend another year in preventative detention, Diego appealed to the court to allow for pre-trial release using electronic monitoring. Knowing that Dave had few resources, Diego contacted friends and family, finding Dave a stable place to live in Costa Rica, which would have been a requirement for the judge to approve release. However, citing the lengthy time that Dave was held without trial, the judge decided to move up the date for the second trial. Dave is a free man today because of the dedicated legal work and personal support of attorneys Diego Chacón and Gunnar Núñez.