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Brazil Murder Suspect to Remain Free

April 27, 2004

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A judge denied a request by prosecutors Monday to jail a 20-year-old handyman until he is tried for allegedly murdering an American executive and his wife.

Judge Maria Angelica Guedes said prosecutors do not have enough evidence to justify holding Jociel Conceicao dos Santos until his trial on charges of killing Todd Staheli, a 39-year-old Shell Oil Co. executive, and his 36-year-old wife Michelle.

At Monday’s hearing, dos Santos repeated that he was innocent. He confessed to killing when he was first arrested April 1. But he later recanted and has since offered different versions of the crime.

The Stahelis, of Utah, were bludgeoned to death in their home in an exclusive Rio de Janeiro neighborhood last year. Their four young children were home but unaware of the attack.

Staheli was vice president for joint ventures in the Southern Cone gas and power unit of Shell Oil.

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