Brazilian goalie convicted of killing ex-girlfriend

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Former Flamingo goalkeeper Bruno is escorted by guards after being handed a 22-year prison sentence.

Former Flamingo goalkeeper Bruno is escorted by guards after being handed a 22-year prison sentence.

SAO PAULO (AP) - A former goalkeeper was convicted Friday of killing his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison in a trial that made front-page headlines across Brazil.

The jury of five women and two men in Minas Gerais found Bruno guilty of ordering the killing of model Eliza Samudio. Her body has never been found amid allegations she was dismembered, with her remains fed to dogs.

Defense lawyers told local media they expected a conviction but would appeal.

The ex-Flamengo goalie already had been convicted of kidnapping Samudio and forcing her to terminate her pregnancy. He was serving a prison sentence of four years and six months in that case. After a court dispute, Samudio's mother was appointed the child's guardian.

"I expected more,'' the model's mother, Eliza Silva Samudio, told local media after Friday's sentence. "They made it easy on him.''

The judge said Bruno's sentence was reduced because of his confession. According to Brazilian law, he could be allowed some freedom in about three or four years depending on his behavior in prison. No one can serve more than 30 years in prison in Brazil.

The 28-year-old Bruno was captain of the Flamengo team that won the Brazilian league title in 2009, and was touted to move to European soccer and even contend for a spot in the Brazil national team.

"These crimes received a lot of attention not only because one of the defendants was a famous football player, but also because of the plot that they involved, and because of the mystery of where the victim's remains were hidden,'' said the sentence read by judge Marixa Fabiane Lopes Rodrigues.

Bruno's ex-wife, Dayanne Rodrigues, was found not guilty of Samudio's kidnapping because the jury said she acted under pressure from Bruno and others involved in the crimes. Last year, one of Bruno's friends and another ex-girlfriend were found guilty of their involvement.

Bruno on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that he knew about Samudio's death but denied ordering her killing. Although he said he felt guilty for her death and that he benefited from it, he blamed a friend for killing the 25-year-old model.

In 2009, with Bruno in his prime as a player, Samudio made the first allegations to police that she was pregnant to him, and that the goalkeeper and others kidnapped her and tried to force her to terminate the pregnancy.

She refused, and the child - who was now 3 and is also named Bruno - was born healthy. But the model disappeared soon afterward in June 2010, and in December of that year Bruno was found guilty of Samudio's initial accusations.

Investigators said at the time that the player was behind a scheme that lured the model from Rio de Janeiro to a ranch in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais with the promise that he would recognize the child as his and give her an apartment. There she allegedly was held against her will by Bruno's accomplices, killed, and her remains fed to dogs who roamed the property.