An Arlington Circuit Court jury last night convicted Manuel Quintana, a 28-year-old Cuban refugee of murder in the beating death of an elderly woman last March 19.
The jury, which deliberated for five hours before reaching a verdict, is scheduled to return to the county courthouse this moring to decide whether Quintana should be sentenced to die in the electric chair or serve life in prison for the slaying. The jury will hear arguments from both defense and prosecution lawyers before it considers the sentence to impose in the case.
The trial, which began last Tuesday before Judge Charles S. Russell, was believed to be the first in Virginia in which simultaneous translation was available, in English and Spanish, to insure that the defendent fully understood the proceedings. Quintana does not understand or speak English.
He was convicted of murdering Ophelia Quintero, 72, another Cuban refugee.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kenneth Melson told the jury at the outset of the trail that Quintana stole money and property from the elderly woman at her apartment at 748 S. Florida St. before he beat her to death with a hammer. Defense attorney Benjamin Kendrick contended that someone planted articles from Quintero's apartment in the defense's car in order to implicate him in the crime.