Sunday, August 29, 2010

Murder in Brazil #2

Brazilians have an expression: neste país, os ricos não vão para a cadeia.
It means, in this country, rich people don’t go to jail.
Not true in all cases, but…
…consider the case of Antônio Marcos Pimenta Neves, well-to-do, politically well-connected and a confessed killer.
The former managing editor of the Estado do São Paulo (Brazil’s newspaper of record; our equivalent of The New York Times) he spent four years carrying on a love affair with a young journalist named Sandra Gomide.
For much of that time, he abused her physically.
Finally, she summoned the courage to end their relationship and went to the cops. They photographed her bruises and abrasions and told Pimenta Neves to leave her alone.
He didn’t.
On the 20th of August, 2000, he showed up at her family’s farm, in the countryside near São Paulo to force a reconciliation.
She refused.
So he drew this revolver and shot her.
Once in the back.
And then, to make certain she was dead, again in the ear.
Arrested, he was released to await final judgment in liberty.
Final, is the operative word.
Final, in Brazil, is after all appeals have been exhausted.
The constitution that defends Pimenta Neves’ rights is one of the most modern and democratic on earth.
It exists, in part, to make sure that no one suffers unjust punishment.
And, to that end, offers numerous safeguards, numerous opportunities for appeal.
Of course, you need good lawyers to take advantage of them.
Pimenta Neves has very good lawyers.
It took six years to get him convicted.
(Yes, he confessed, but, in Brazil, murder cases still have to be submitted to a jury.)
He appealed.
In 2008, his conviction was confirmed.
But then his lawyers sought grounds for a second appeal – and found them.
And have been finding other ones ever since.
He continues to inhabit his mini mansion in São Paulo.
He continues to spend summers at the beach in Guarujá.
In this cartoon, entitled Meanwhile, in Gurarujá, a guy’s wife is saying (black balloon) “Isn’t that Pimenta Neves, the guy who confessed to killing his girlfriend? Look, he’s got a new one.” The guy replies, “Be more discrete. Don’t comment on promiscuous relationships.” The new girlfriend is, of course, justice. And Pimenta Neves is declaring his faith in her.
People are outraged.
Pimenta Neves doesn't care. His permit to carry a firearm has not been revoked; he’s gone out and bought himself another pistol.
He’s 72, and in excellent health for a man of his age.
Meanwhile, Sandra’s father, four years younger than Pimenta Neves, living with the frustration of seeing his daughter’s killer getting away with it, has undergone quadruple bypass surgery, has had one of his legs amputated because of a circulatory problem, has lost his job and is living on a small pension.
Living, he says, for the day he’ll see Pimenta Neves behind bars.
But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Pimenta Neves is lucky to be Brazilian.

Leighton - Monday


  1. A terrible story Leighton which shows the vast gulf between the law and justice.

  2. Leighton, this, in some form, has to make it into one of your books! Truth is stranger than we fiction crime writers can make stories.

  3. It seems so unjust. He's confessed, it doesn't seem right that they can appeal that. So sad for the victim's father.

    Thoughts in Progress

  4. Ah, the Brazilian remake of The Girl On The Red Velvet Swing. Though in that case socialite Harry Thaw got away with shooting romantic rival Stanford White, not the girl herself.

    Of course, that was a century ago. Stuff like that doesn't happen any more in Amer...

    Wait. I forgot: If the fame and bank account fit, you must acquit.



  5. In the US the really rich get to go to jails, not prisons, where they are treated as if they were vacationing at a golf club.

    The one good story, good as in justice was meted out, was in the Martha Moxley case. Martha was a neighbor of Michael Skakel's. He is the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, Bobby's widow. One Halloween night he beat Martha with a golf club (they were both teenagers at the time). This was in 1975. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in 2002. He appealed on the grounds that he should have been tried as a juvenile.

    He appealed for a new trial and was denied. He is eligible for parole in 2013, most definitely not time enough in prison but at least he had to go for a little while.


  6. Hi Leighton,

    I'm not a fan of George Lopez but his 100th show anniversary followed Family Guy last night and I caught the beginning.

    Kobe Bryant was one of the first guests to celebrate with him.

    Kobe came to the stage carrying a huge trophy, the audience were on their feet chanting "MVP, MVP".

    I could have sworn I watched Kobe Bryant's trial on court TV but thought I must be mistaken.

    I googled Kobe and I was right, he was tried for rape and attempted murder.

    It's outrageous that the rich can manipulate the courts to their advantage but it's even worse to see the public cares more about basketball.

    My facts might be a little off, and people are innocent until proven guilty, blah, blah, blah, still there's no doubt he was involved in a serious and violent crime against a woman.

    Maybe I would feel differently if I was a Laker's fan, but I'm not.

    Thanks for another enlightening and interesting blog.


  7. Hi, Leighton

    Your last book set in Brazil, Every Bitter Thing Kindle Edition, is not available for brasilian customers in Funny, isn't it?

    Best regards from Brazil

  8. Hi Márcio,
    Re: the unavailability of Every Bitter Thing on Kindle.
    Thanks for commenting.
    Yeah, annoying isn't it?
    The reason is that it has yet to be launched in the U.S.
    That's going to happen on the first of December, and they'll put the book up on Kindle shortly thereafter.
    But not before, because they think it undermines the launch.
    You'll note that, on the hardcover page, it's only available for advance sale.
    Which means you can pay your money, even get a good discount, but they will only ship the books on the first of December.
    There have been some early reviews on the internet, all good, and one very nice one this morning on Glenn Harper's excellent blog INTERNATIONAL NOIR FICTION, but they are all based upon Advanced Review Copies that my publisher sends out.
    Glenn thinks this one is the best Silva book yet.
    I hope you'll agree with him.
    When you finally get a copy.