Gary Giordano Wins Appeal in Aruba

Appeals court rules not enough evidence to keep Maryland man in jail in Robyn Gardner case

A court in Aruba denied a prosecution appeal seeking to put a Maryland businessman back in jail as a suspect in the disappearance of his travel companion, his lawyer said.

The three-judge panel ruled there was not enough evidence to continue holding Gary Giordano in the presumed death of Robyn Gardner, defense attorney Chris Lejuez said.

The ruling came hours after Giordano left the island.

"While we believe the circumstances warranted his detention, we respect the court's ruling," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Prosecutors had said they intended to seek his extradition if they won their appeal. Under the Aruban system, prosecutors would have to bring the 50-year-old Gaithersburg man to trial if they hope to pursue a case against him.

“There is no more appeals,” Lejuez said. “If they want him behind bars now, they would have to start a court case against him ... They have to charge him and take his case to court and they have years to do that.”

The defense attorney said he expects the case will go no further.

“The truth is, as I showed the judges today, there is no evidence whatsoever against him, nothing, zero,” he said. “So, I don't think this case will go to court.”

Giordano arrived in Miami Wednesday morning from the Caribbean island. A short time later he boarded a flight to New York, accompanied by attorney Jose Baez, who won an acquittal for Florida mother Casey Anthony in her murder trial earlier this year.

Baez said Giordano, the divorced owner of an employment services business, is looking forward to returning home to spend time with his family.

“We're hoping that of course this is the end of it,” Baez said. “However, he's not running. So if they have a legal basis to require him to come back, he's going to come back.”

Aruban law allows pretrial detention while authorities investigate a crime, but it is subject to a judge's review and the threshold of evidence necessary to hold someone increases as times goes on. A judge ruled last week that prosecutors had not met the requirement and ordered the release of Giordano. He had been in custody since Aug. 5, three days after reporting to police that Gardner disappeared while snorkeling. Her body has not been found.

The case has been compared to that of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, who disappeared on Aruba in May 2005 on the last night of her high school graduation trip to the island. Her body was never found and the prime suspect was detained for months before he was eventually released for lack of evidence.

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