Though the crime took place more than 3,000 miles away, the May 28 murder of longtime Northeast beauty shop owner Lemon Groves
definitely hit home in Portland.
Now there may be some closure for Groves, friends and family. Yesterday, a Granada, Nicaragua, jury found the chief suspect guilty in the brutal slaying of Groves, 49, who owned the popular Northeast salon that bore her name before retiring to Central America two years ago.
"The jury sent a message that justice will prevail," said Jeremy Ivan Curtis, one of Groves' neighbors in Granada and a fellow Portland native.
Carlos Alberto Agilar Barberena was convicted of killing Groves in a trial that was the first in Nicaragua to include DNA evidence at the urging of Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, who intervened in the case on behalf of Groves' family.
Barberena was part of a gang, said Curtis, that had been harassing Groves for months. Yesterday's conviction came after Barberena's alibi crumbled, with several witnesses changing their stories during the course of the trial.
Barberena will be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 28.
With the trial finally over, members of Granada's tight expatriate community remembered and grieved anew for the woman known for her open and kind heart.
"I feel cheated by her death," said Laura Bailey in Granada. "But I also feel that she is at peace with what has transpired...."
[Image of Lemon Groves and her dog, Petie, courtesy of Jeremy Ivan Curtis