Update: Oliveira-Coutinho Guilty Of Killing Szczepanik Family

By: Brian Mastre, John Chapman Email
By: Brian Mastre, John Chapman Email

A man convicted in a brutal triple murder is one step closer to the death penalty but not everyone who allegedly took part in the murders of the Szczepanik family will be tried in an Omaha court.

Some fear complete justice may never be possible.

Jose Oliveria Coutinho was convicted of murdering the Szczepanik family at 11am and found out his case is being taken up by the three judge death penalty panel at 5pm.

He is the second of three suspects, authorities say, are responsible for wiping the Omaha branch of the Szczepanik family from the face of the earth.

The third man, Elias Batista, may never be brought to justice.

Tatiane Klein leaves the courtroom after the jury decided there were enough aggravating circumstances surrounding her family's deaths that a 3-judge panel should look at giving Jose Coutinho the death penalty.

In the courtroom her interpreter assured Tatiane the least he could get is life in prison. Tatiane looked back at how much things have changed over the past three years.

Tatiane Klein says, "When I first came to Omaha I wanted to find my family alive unfortunately that didn't take place but we're moving toward justice here."

Valdier Goncalves Santos plead guilty at the end of his trial and agreed to testify for prosecutors.

On Friday Jose Coutinho was convicted and informed he is one step away from being put on Nebraska's death row.

But a third man managed to leave the U.S. before authorities could prove the Szczepaniks were murdered and he may never be returned to face justice.

John Alagaban says, "Our goal is to have him, his name is Elias Lourenco Bautista extradited and brought back to America. There is what is called a "red notice" arrest warrant that is lodged with Interpol so if it is at all possible we want to bring him back."

Don Kleine says Brazilian authorities have offered to prosecute Bautista there for the Szczepaniks murders but, they say, it is very expensive process.

Douglas county authorities have a good idea of where Bautista is and they believe Brazilian authorities know exactly where he is but have not made any move to arrest him.

Don Kleine did say when Bautista is tried for the Szczepanik murders it will be in Omaha.


Jose “Carlos” Oliveira-Coutinho has been found guilty of the murders of Vanderlei Szczepanik, his wife Jacqueline and their son Christopher. The Szczepanik family went missing in December 2009.

The trial lasted two weeks, but it only took the jury three hours to reach a verdict. During the trial of another man responsible for the crime, the gruesome story of a family murdered and then dismembered was laid out in detail.

The first trial in this case ended with a surprise that helped lead the way for prosecutors to support a new trial against Oliveira-Coutinho. It was a case that nearly went cold; it was a trial that was basically a lock in a not guilty verdict for the defense. That was until Valdeir Gonclaves-Santos confessed to the murders. He is expected to be sentenced soon.

Oliveira-Coutinho was found guilty of theft by deception in addition to the three counts of first-degree murder. He could be given the death penalty.

An advocate for the victims says the guilty verdict is what they've been waiting to hear for so long. “Happiness, didn't know which way it was gonna go and for Tatiya's sake, it made the right decision,” said Diane Luna of With A Hand To Hold. Tatiya is a surviving family member.

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