A ranch handyman was convicted Friday of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 9-year-old boy whose disappearance turned his parents into crusaders for abducted children.
The jury rejected the defense argument that Juan Carlos Chavez was framed by his bosses and signed a confession only because he feared being deported to his native Cuba.Chavez, 31, confessed three months after the killing to taking Jimmy Ryce from his school bus stop Sept. 11, 1995, raping him in a trailer near the ranch where he worked and shooting him as he tried to escape.
Jimmy's body parts were found after the confession, encased in concrete-filled plastic planters at the ranch.
Attorney Art Koch said Chavez only confessed because investigators terrorized him during a three-day interrogation. He said Chavez was a counter-revolutionary who escaped Cuba and feared he would be killed if he was deported.
Since their son's death, Don and Claudine Ryce have founded the Jimmy Ryce Center, which buys bloodhounds for police agencies around the nation.