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20 years

Man found guilty of fatally shooting U.S. teen in La Fortuna to receive new trial

August 21st, 2013 ( A former security guard at a hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos who was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old Kansas boy will receive a new trial.


Justin Johnston was on a field trip with his high school Spanish Club in June 2011 when he was shot and killed by hotel security guard, Jorge Guevara.  Guevara was sentenced a year ago to 15 years in prison for shooting.


Now, Guevara has been awarded a new trial and Johnston’s family is concerned that justice will not be served.


“Devastating, we received the news of Guevara being granted a new trial from the appelate court on Justin’s birthday.  We were actually at the cemetery,” the boy’s father, John Johnston told FOX 4 in Kansas City.


“Emotionally, financially we have to go back again and live this all over,” his wife Wendi Johnston added.


The new trial is scheduled for September 16th.  The Johnston’s and their attorney said the appellate court ruled that the original trial did not establish Guevara’s intent to kill Johnston.


“Our understanding of Costa Rican law is the mere fact of shooting a deadly firearm at a person establishes intent to kill,” John Johnston told FOX 4.


Jorge Guevara testified in court that he mistook the teenage boy and his friend for thieves and insisted he fired a warning shot first.


The boy’s father is skeptical.  “The distance between Justin and Guevara was about 15 feet in a lighted hallway,” John Johnston said.


The Johnston’s believe that Costa Rica’s concern for its image as a tourist destination may have played a role in granting Guevara a new trial.


The Johnston’s have created a non-profit called “Remembering Justin” that has awarded $20,000 in college scholarships to high school students in Kansas.


You can learn more by visiting the web site


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  • NorthendFool

    This is how its down in CR. This case could go on for years, back and forth. The shooter was a Nica who had no papers so therefore the hotel owner is also liable for the death. The shooter could go to jail and next month be allowed to walk the streets. Its crazy. The judicial system is so busy feeling sorry for the accused that nothing is accomplished.

    • Ken Morris

      I’m not so sure. Mistakes can happen. Give me a gun with next to no training and ask me to guard a hotel, and I might end up mistaking a kid sneaking out at night for an intruder too. Also, accuracy with a handgun is notoriously low. Even well-trained cops miss lots of shots. It’s possible that the guard did only mean to fire a warning shot and missed.

      Most importantly, nothing is going to bring the kid back, and it’s not “justice” to punish the shooter if it really was a mistake. I say let the guy have a new trial and see where the facts lead.

      The real problem is that CR has come to equate security with armed and poorly trained security guards, when these guys may actually diminish security. I’m sorry for the family’s loss, just don’t see how punishing a poor Nica in an awful job who surely didn’t want to shoot the kid makes up for it. Two victims aren’t better than one.

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