PAWTUCKET – A Pawtucket man who shot his 27-year-old ex-girlfriend in the head in 2008 was found guilty a second time by a Providence County Superior Court jury on Monday.
Juan Diaz, 29, who was convicted in the murder of Mayra Cruz in 2010, was found guilty again of second degree murder and discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, death resulting.
The verdict was returned one day after a nine-day retrial before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause.
Diaz was initially convicted and sentenced to two life sentences. But the state Supreme Court threw out the conviction, ruling that the judge in the case erred in delivering instructions to the jury on the difference between second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
During the most recent trial, the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on June 25, 2008, Diaz shot and killed 26-year-old Cruz and then fled the scene. That day, Diaz placed a call to the Pawtucket Police Department stating that he shot his girlfriend by accident, indicating she was vomiting and had stopped breathing. When the Police responded to the residence on Reservoir Avenue, they found Cruz behind a locked door, cold to the touch. Neither the defendant nor the weapon were found at the scene.
At approximately the same time, a woman identifying herself as Diaz' girlfriend walked into the police station to report that her boyfriend, Juan Diaz, called and said he shot Mayra Cruz during an accident. While at the police station, the woman received several more calls from the defendant talking about the murder, indicating
he and Mayra were in an argument, and the gun discharged when he attempted to get it away from her.
While the defendant continued to speak with his girlfriend, the police were able to identify his location as Albany, New York, where he was arrested by the United States Marshals the following day.
Pawtucket Police Detective Charles Devine led the investigation and Assistant Attorney General Maureen Keough prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.