U.S. citizen who killed would-be car thief released from custody

The La Fortuna restaurant operator who killed a man who was trying to steal a vehicle is out of jail.

Law officers released the man, John Markus Pennisi, a U.S. citizen, sometime Monday. A lawyer from the Defensa Publica said Pennisi was given certain rules to follow. These are called medidas cautelares, and a judge usually orders them when he or she believes a defendant has roots in the community and will show up at future hearings.

Pennisi operates a restaurant in La Fortuna. The business, New York Grill, was closed Monday.
The lawyer said Pennisi cannot leave the country, has to surrender his passport and has to check in with prosecutors every week.

In Costa Rica subjecting a victim to a criminal process when they kill or badly injure a suspect is not unusual. In this case, the would-be vehicle thief, identified by the last names of Mendoza Esquivel, confronted Pennisi when the businessman spotted him trying to take his pickup. That was about 10 a.m. Sunday.

Mendoza died from knife wounds in the chest and back.

Police said they were familiar with Mendoza.

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