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The Life and Death of Juan Moraes Neves


Source: Diário do Grande ABC. Image: Veja.com.

File under police criminality and violence.

What is unusual about the case is the successful follow-up by forensic investigators: for decades, the rubric “resistance followed by death” has been used to muddy the waters in police shooting cases.

Crime scenes are almost routinely disturbed by supposed “efforts to resuscitate” the victim — a practice recently discontinued by the São Paulo military police, which is resisting the rule requiring the fire brigade to handle paramedical tasks.

Judge Marcio Alexandre Pacheco da Silva of the Fourth Jury Court of Nova Iguaçu, in the Baixada Fluminense, has scheduled for September 9 the trial of four military policemen accused of involvement in the murder of the minor Juan Moraes Neves, 11 years old at the time of his death in June 2011. The incident occurred in Danon, in Nova Iguaçu.

The case was originally recorded as “resistance followed by death” (death of a suspect in armed confrontation with police) but after an investigation by the state judicial police it was concluded that no armed confrontation took place. The judge expects proceedings to last at least four days.

A jury will decided the fate of sergeants Isaías Souza do Carmo and Ubirani Soares and corporals Edilberto Barros do Nascimento and Rubens da Silva. All have been in preventive custody since 2011. At the time of the incident, the four were assigned to the 20th Battalion  (Mesquita).

The PMs were carrying out an antidrug operation in Danon on the the night of June 20, 2011. During that time, two suspects were killed: 11-year-old Juan and Igor de Souza Afonso, 17  (suspected of having ties to the drug trade). Another two young men, including Juan’s brother, were shot, but survived.

Juan’s body was not located until 10 days after the incident along the margins of the Rio Botas in Belford Roxo, a community neighboring Nova Iguaçu.

A state judicial police expert initially stated that the  the body found in the river was that of a young girl. However, a DNA test comparing genetic material from Juan’s family members with a blood sample taken from a sandal worn by the victim on the day he disappeared proved that the body was that of a male.

The Baixada Fluminense homicide division (DHBF) proved that Juan was killed with bullets from two 7.62mm assault rifles used by the PM officers. Ballistics examinations were performed on shell casings found at the scene.

The four PMs were charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree attempted murder, and tampering with evidence (concealing of a corpse).