SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s Supreme Court on Tuesday awarded the father of a young U.S. psychologist who was beaten to death in southern Chile $240,000 in compensation for mistakes by police and prosecutors that allowed her killer to get away.
Erica Faith Hagan, 22, from Murray, Kentucky, was working as a teaching assistant in English and religious education at the Colegio Bautista school in the city of Temuco, 400 miles (640 km) south of the capital Santiago. Her lifeless body was found in her dormitory bathtub on Sept. 6, 2014.
In December 2015, Domingo Cofre, 44, a security guard at the school, was acquitted of her murder. There have been no further leads in the case.
The Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday upheld another by the Temuco appeal court in May 2019.
The court ruled that “negligent performance and unjustifiable errors” by police and prosecutors meant Hagan’s father Chris “lost the opportunity” to turn the page on her death through the conviction of her killer or killers.
Cofre’s DNA, and that of another person, was found on the poker used to kill Hagan but it was contaminated by police during its recovery and could not be used in evidence, the Supreme Court ruling said.
Hagan’s watch was also lost during the investigation, and the crime scene was not properly secured, the court finding said.
The court ordered the Chilean state to pay Chris Hagan $200m Chilean pesos ($239,000) in moral damages.
Reporting by Aislinn Laing and Fabian Cambero; additional reporting Erik Lopez; editing by Philippa Fletcher
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