Daniela Perez Biography

In Brazil, nightly prime time soap operas (telenovelas) are the most popular shows on television avidly watched by an estimated 80 million view - ers. None approached the cult status of De Corpo e Alma (Of Body and Soul ) an hour-long, six nights a week telenovela written by Gloria Perez, mother of the show's beautiful star, 23-year-old Daniela Perez. On the series, the married Perez played the sexy role of "Yasmin," the object of desire of three men including the violently jealous boyfriend "Bira," acted by Guilherme de Padua. Prior to landing his breakout role as a male stripper on Brazilian television's number one rated show, de Padua, 23, danced on the gay theatre circuit in the erotic revue, "The Night of the Leopards." Married to 19-year-old Paula de Almeida Thomaz, de Padua had his wife's name tattooed on his penis in mid–December 1992 while she had his etched on her inner thigh. As a further symbol of their love, each wore one half of a broken amulet on a chain around their necks. Professionally, however, de Padua's career took a major hit when his character was written out of De Corpo e Alma after the plot line had Daniela Perez's character reject him. Following the shooting of his final lines on December 28, 1992, de Padua broke down and wept on the set. Hours later, Perez's body was found in a pool of blood in an empty lot in Rio de Janeiro's chic beach district of Barra da Tijuca. The young actress was stabbed 18 times in the throat and chest with what police believed to have been a pair of scissors. Five of the wounds punctured her heart. De Padua was arrested the next day and confessed to killing his co-star. According to the former exotic dancer, his ongoing quarrel with Perez was rooted in his refusal to sleep with the actress because of his devotion to his pregnant wife. Other actors on the soap opera told a far different story, one in which de Padua was in constant pursuit of Perez. Thomaz initially informed authorities that she was present in the car with her husband and Perez during the murder, but later recanted stating she was shopping at a nearby mall at the time of the incident. Police offered a simple theory of the crime-Thomaz's insane jealousy over Perez prompted the murder. The murder of the beautiful actress generated a media frenzy in Brazil where the latest Perez-de Padua news even took precedence over the resignation of the country's president. Protesters outside the 16th Precinct in the Barra da Tijuca beach district where de Padua was held carried signs reading, "Guilherme: Devil in Human Form." Other outraged fans sent telegrams to the police recommending that they "torture, kill, (and) cut him in pieces." In 1993, de Padua made an initial statement to a judge that, under Brazilian law, took the place of a formal plea allowing the case to proceed to trial. "I killed her. I killed Daniela," confessed de Padua while insisting that his wife was not present at the murder. Weeks later, however, the actor recanted his confession and stated that Thomaz alone carried out the killing in a fit of jealous rage. The couple divorced while awaiting trial. In January 1997, more than five years after the brutal murder of Daniela Perez, de Padua finally went on trial in what was called the Brazilian equivalent of the O.J. Simpson entry) case. The proceedings were carried on live television and national radio, and spectators turned away from the packed courtroom flooded the streets outside the courthouse in Rio. De Padua, now 27, admitted having an affair with Perez because it was in his best career "interests" to do so. After all, the star's mother, Gloria, scripted De Corpo e Alma and he wanted to stay on her good side. De Padua testified that he watched while his insanely jealous wife repeatedly stabbed the soap star with a pair of scissors as she lay unconscious on the ground. A five man, two woman jury took only 11?2 hours to convict de Padua of pre-meditated murder on January 26, 1997. In the absence of a death penalty or life sentence in Brazilian law, de Padua faced a prison term of between 12–30 years. The judge split the difference sentencing the actor to 19 years. Thomaz, now 23, pleaded "not guilty" at her murder trial in May 1997 and maintained she was at a shopping mall when the crime took place. Unable to produce any purchase receipts or alibi witnesses, Thomaz was convicted and sentenced to 18 years and six months (less time than de Padua because she was under 21 years of age at the time of the murder). Remarkably, under Brazil's notoriously lenient penal code, both convicted killers became eligible for parole in early 1998. In Brazil, first time offenders are required to serve only 1?3 of their sentence and are eligible for work-release after serving 1?6 of their prison term. With time awaiting trial counted as time served, de Padua was paroled in October 1999 after spending only seven years in prison for a premeditated murder. Thomaz was paroled the next month leading the prosecutor in both cases to comment, "Unfortunately, life has no value in Brazil."

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