Almost all evidence against the two 14-year-old boys convicted of the murder of Ana Kriégel this week were circumstantial, a term often used to suggest that she is weak. But the judgment of Boy A and Boy B showed that the opposite is often the case. Pieces of circumstantial evidence can together paint a convincing picture that leaves a jury no doubt about the guilt of an accused.
The teenagers, who on Tuesday became the youngest in state history to be convicted of this crime, killed Ann at Glenwood House in Lucan on the west end of Co Dublin on May 14, 2018. She had 14 years; they were then 13 years old. Boy A had pleaded not guilty to murder and sexual assault involving serious violence. Boy B pleaded not guilty to murder. Their names were not revealed because of their age.
Circumstantial evidence is any evidence that implies the truth of a fact rather than directly supporting it. The witness testimony of a murder is direct evidence. The testimony of a witness who saw the suspect kill comes out of the crime scene is indirect or circumstantial evidence.
So the presence of Ana Kriégel's blood in Boy A's boots implied that he was at the site of his murder. CCTV footage of Boy B walking with Ana towards the abandoned house where she was killed implied that he went there with her.
The lies and evasions of the boys implied that they had something to hide. A jury would never be asked to convict in a single circumstantial piece of evidence. The Garda and the prosecution had to gather many pieces so that they could meet the burden of proof.
Dozens of circumstantial evidence pointed to the guilt of boys A and B, but five key pieces stood out and made condemnation possible.
1. the boots
Gardaí had suspicions about boys A and B even before Ana's body was found on May 17, 2018. Two days earlier, during the search for Ana, the investigators had the boys show the way they said they had walked with Ana in St. Catherine's. Park, near his home in Leixlip, in Co Kildare, the day he disappeared. The gardai noticed that the boys looked confused at one point and exchanged a look or look.
After Ana's body was found, the investigation focused immediately on the teenagers. They had been the last to be seen with Anna on May 14, but the Garda had nothing to put them on the scene.
The detectives needed a solid link to one or both. They already had Boy A.'s clothes and boots. When he first spoke with the gardaí, Boy A claimed that he had been beaten by two men in the park shortly after leaving Ana's company. He said that this was how his face , arm and knee were injured.
Garda's priority was to find Ana, but she was also forced to investigate the allegations of aggression. Det Garda Gabriel Newton therefore called Boy A's house to his clothes and boots, hoping they would give clues to his attackers.
It soon became clear that the two men were fictitious. No one in the park that day had seen someone who fit his description. Nor had they been seen in the 700 hours or more of CCTV footage that gardaí had watched.
But the existing investigation meant that when Ana's body was found, the detectives did not need a warrant to get the clothes that the boy used to wear that day.
Forensic tests showed Ana's blood at nine locations in her boots. In the words of John Hoade, a forensic expert, this proved that Boy A "attacked Anastasia Kriégel or was very close to Anastasia Kriégel when she was assaulted."
Gardai now had more than enough evidence to detain both boy A and his best friend, Boy B, and bring them in for questioning. They also received search warrants for adolescent homes.
Boots were the first building block on which the prosecution called the overwhelming forensic case against boy A
Many of Boy One's responses in the interview were that he had no comment. But when the garda showed him a picture of the boots and said that Ana's blood had been found in them, he asked if the detective was joking. "Are you really serious?" He said. Det Garda Tomas Doyle said he would not joke about something like that.
Boy A asked if he could get out and get some air. His lawyer asked if he was feeling bad and someone gave the boy a glass of water. Det Garda Doyle told Boy A that this was a very serious matter. "I'm aware," replied the boy.
Boots were the first building block in what the prosecution called the oppressive forensic case against boy A.
During the trial, in the absence of the jury, his defense would try to prevent the boots from being presented as evidence. Patrick Gageby, a lawyer for Boy A, argued that they had been obtained under false pretenses and that Det Garda Newton was not interested in investigating the alleged aggression and interested in the case merely by relating to Anne.
He asked the detective why she would take the clothes when they had been washed. The clothing may still provide forensic clues after washing, Det Garda Newton replied.
The gambit failed. Judge Paul McDermott said police took their boots and clothing as part of the investigation into a serious attack. It was simply their luck that the boots would continue to produce vital evidence in the investigation of the murder.
2. The "murder kit"
The backpack found in Boy A's room after his arrest on May 24 became known almost immediately as the "murder kit." It's easy to see why. The distinctive bag contained knee pads, shin guards, gloves, a scarf, and a skull-shaped mask.
The mask stood out for detectives. Skin color, covered the face only up to the upper jaw. Holes had been cut to the eyes and nostrils, and the fangs had been cut at the bottom and painted red to make them appear stained with blood. In court, it was darker than when he found it, because of a dye used to extract fingerprints from him.
Despite its chilling appearance, the mask had innocent origins. It was made as part of a school project, and Kid A used it as a Halloween mask. The notes in a notebook in her room seemed to support this, as did the searches on her cell phone for examples of masks.
Asked about Boy A's mask for Garda, Boy B referred to her as a zombie mask. He said it was "really cool" and that he had used it before himself.
Asked why he called it a zombie mask, boy B said that's what Boy called her.
Detectives were also interested in the backpack gloves. Although they looked innocuous, the gloves provided an important clue, explaining why fingerprints were not found at Glenwood House.
They also appeared to match the gloves that Boy A was seen wearing when he was caught on CCTV walking down St Catherine's Park toward the abandoned house the day Ana was murdered. Detectives wondered why he was wearing woolen gloves on a hot summer night.
The backpack matched what Boy A was seen that day. He used it whenever he left, said boy B.
The mask, shin guards and knee pads showed a planning element. Boy A packed these items that day because he knew that Ana would probably react
On their own, these items were unusual, but they proved nothing. However, they were suspicious enough that the gardaí would send them for forensic tests, leading to a breakthrough. Ana's blood was found both inside and outside the mask, and boy A's DNA was found around the nose and mouth. Ana's DNA was also found on the knee pads and gloves, and inside and outside the backpack.
Gardaí had already called forensic boy A to the scene of the crime through his boots. But the presence of Ana's DNA in the other items showed that it was more than an assault; It was an extremely violent attack that resulted in a huge loss of blood. It showed that the crime was murder, not manslaughter.
Perhaps more importantly, the mask, shin guards and knee pads showed an element of planning. Boy A packed these items that day because he knew that Ana would probably react. Boy A was tall for age, but Ana was taller.
All of these items would be shown to the jury during the trial. But the prosecution wanted to take a step forward. During the investigation, Hoen, the forensic expert, donned a mannequin on the items, as well as the clothes worn by boy A on the day of the murder.
A puppet dressed in a skull mask and a headscarf with a hood over his head was a chilling representation of one of the last things Ana had seen before she lost consciousness.
Brendan Grehan SC, the prosecuting attorney, wanted to show the jury's photos of the mannequin. He said it would be nothing more than a visual aid, to show them how the backpack items should be used. He said the doll was "no more than a representation of what the jury ever saw, in a different format."
Gageby, for Boy A, objected based on the fact that the mannequin was speculative and there was no evidence that it accurately portrayed what was used at the time. There was no evidence to show that Boy A wore the hood during the attack, for example.
Mr. Justice McDermott has decided against the charge. "Whatever the limited probative value is offset by the disproportionate detrimental effects," he said. "I'm not satisfied that this photo should come in."
The photographs would have been an impressive display, but they were not necessary. Cold and dispassionate evidence from forensic experts about their findings conveyed information as effectively.
3. The tape
The Tescon tape, used to attach the insulation to the roofs, is highly specialized. One roll costs about 30 €. "It's not something you'd buy on a whim," said Adrian Crosson of Ecological Building Systems. "You buy for a specific purpose."
The Crosson company is the sole supplier of the tape in Ireland and ordering only upon request.
A long piece of Tescon's tape, which is highly adhesive, was found wrapped around Ana's neck when her body was found. She had her fingers inside, as if she were trying to take it off, and a piece of her jewelry was stuck to the adhesive side.
Despite what confronted the Garda search team at 1 pm on May 14, 2018, when they entered Glenwood House, it was later established that the tape had not been used to strangle the girl.
State pathologist at the time, Professor Marie Cassidy, discovered that Ana died of blunt trauma to the head. The bottleneck may also have contributed to his death, but this was probably done by hand. If the strangulation had been caused by the tape, there would be marks around the neck rather than just one side.
Gardaí believed that the tape had been used to drag Ana to the other side of the room, where there was more light. It could not be determined whether she was conscious or alive at this time.
Detectives showed boy B a photograph of the tape found at the crime scene. & # 39; Wait a minute. Saint s ** t. Oh my God, "he said. I gave [Boy A] tape a couple of weeks ago & # 39;
Although the tape did little to determine how Ana died, it was vital to establish an important bond between the two boys. And his presence suggested planning. An accused could explain bringing a scarf or gloves for a walk in the park. Wearing specialized insulation tape was another matter.
When the Gardai searched Boy B's house, they found the same tape mark on a shed. When detectives asked him about it, boy B said he used to pick up guns. He explained that he enjoyed doing things and made his own bow and arrow, which he used for target shooting in his backyard.
"I also like doing other things, but usually when I do something I use this tape."
Detectives showed the boy a photograph of the same tape mark found at the scene.
"Wait a minute, holy s ** t." "Oh my God," B boy said. [Boy A] tape a few weeks ago.
He said Boy A wanted the tape because he was making a "great type of weapon". So I gave him a used roller, a half-used roller. I gave it to him. Here it is. Construction tape.
Boy B denied bringing the tape to the abandoned house.
The story of Boy B was supported by his father, who told the trial that he was in the garden with Boy B the weekend before Ana's murder, when his son said he had loaned the tape to Boy A.
His father was furious. The tape was expensive and so sticky that it was very difficult to handle. "I was very frustrated. I told him that he can not give anything from my shed to anyone without my permission. "
We do not know how much boy B was sincere when he described how he lent the tape to Boy A.
In addition to his father's testimony, there was further evidence to support Boy B's account. An analysis of the ripped edge of the tape found on the scene showed that it did not match the marks on the ribbon roll found in the shed.
This indicated that a different roll was used or, more likely, that another piece of tape had been removed from the roll before the part found in the scene. This supported Boy B's claim that Boy A had used the tape for another purpose before the murder.
But the garda still suspected that he had taken the tape home that day. Boy B was seen carrying a backpack on May 14. He said he used to load his water bottle. If so, why did Boy B claim that he stopped behind the ranger station at St. Catherine's Park for a glass of water, they wondered.
For the prosecution, anything that showed a level of premeditation by Boy B was significant, especially since there was no forensic case against him.
The prosecution could not say definitively that Boy B had taken the tape home or that he knew what the boy A planned to do with her. But he could present the facts and let the jury decide.
4. The CCTV
St Catherine's Park is a well equipped facility that the locals value highly. They have few concerns about their safety, and children play freely on their 80 acres, or 200 acres. This is in part due to the park being well covered by surveillance cameras, including motion-activated cameras that can follow matters as they go.
After Ana was given as missing, Gardaí scoured images of all the cameras in an effort to track his movements. They also got footage from many other sources, including private cameras on the sides of the houses, and even checked pictures of buses and trains passing nearby that day.
In terms of finding Ana viva, it was an unsuccessful exercise. Detectives later determined that she was murdered within 40 minutes of leaving her home, a few miles from her front door.
But filming was invaluable in the investigation of his death. The gardaí could observe the boys A and B returning together to the school and, an hour later, the boy B walking to the house of Ana.
The CCTV footage of the park supported the theory that Boy A had gone to Glenwood House and was waiting for Ana there
They watched Boy B take her away from the house – "effectively the last definitive view of Ana alive," the prosecution later called her.
Minutes later, cameras in the park picked up two numbers that were supposed to be Ana and Boy B walking near the BMX track in the general direction of Glenwood House.
Crucially, the cameras also caught Boy A walking in the same direction about 20 minutes earlier. This contradicted the account of Boy B, who claimed to have collected Ana and "delivered" her to Boy A somewhat in the park before letting them talk.
The filming supported the theory that Boy A had gone to Glenwood House and was waiting for Ana there.
No footage from CCTV showed Kid A heading to Glenwood House, but a witness spotted a teenager matching his description to the field next to the house. "What struck me was that he did not cross the field at a 90-degree angle. His lane was a 45-degree angle to the road, and it was a shorter route to the abandoned house. a shortcut home, "Gerard Redmond told the jury.
The mass of CCTV evidence presented the accusation with a challenge. He had to find a way to present it to the jurors consistently and without overburdening them.
It was decided to present the footage in chronological order, and Grehan and Garda Seamus Timmins made comments while playing on the large flat-screen televisions of the court. They also used a digital map to show where each piece of CCTV footage came from. It was an innovative method of showing jurors the exact path each person had taken without having to take them to the park.
5. The testimony of the Kriégels
Some of the first evidence the jury heard was from Ana's parents, Geraldine and Patric Kriégel, who were calm and composed and never showed any anger-though Geraldine looked frustrated when Gageby suggested that Ana might have had trouble controlling her impulses.
She replied that Ana "would not hurt a fly," but sometimes she threw pillows around the room in frustration. "I was not too worried about that," she said.
Evidence from parents served several important purposes. First, and more obviously, he exposed to the jury the timeline of Anna's leaving home that day and her efforts to find her.
Much of the evidence from her parents dealt with the difficulties Ana faced in the last months of her life: her loneliness, her need for friendship, and the relentless intimidation she endured.
Ana left the house at 5:00 p.m. with Boy B, said Patric. She was smiling, and he believed when she said it would not be long.
Geraldine described herself as "immediately worried" when she got home 20 minutes later and discovered that Ana had gone out with B boy. For the next four hours they searched for Ana and tried to find out where B boy lived. At 9 pm, they went to the station Leixlip Garda, which managed to locate their address.
Many of her evidence dealt with the difficulties Ana faced in the last months of her life: her loneliness, her need for friendship, and the relentless bullying she endured.
Much of the bullying was about her height, her mother said. Ana was strong and tall, "a typical of Siberia," said Geraldine. She was also intimidated by being adopted: other children said she had "fake parents."
There was palpable public anger outside the courtroom, that this sensitive evidence was being elicited. Why did Boy A and Boy B enjoy anonymity while Ana's more personal affairs were aired in court?
But there was a good reason, the prosecution said. They needed to convey Ana's vulnerability and need for friendship, because that was what her killers were exploiting to bring her to Glenwood House. Ana's face brightened as boy B called the door to tell her that her friend wanted to see her. She jumped out of the house, the prosecutor said.
The last reason the evidence of Geraldine and Patric Kriégel was important was that she humanized Ana. All too often in murder trials, the victims become an abstract piece of evidence.
Ana's description of her personality, hobbies, and interests made her a real presence for the jurors, and perhaps allowed them a glimpse of the thoughts that passed through her on her last day of life.