Slain U.S. Missionary to Brazil Remembered

A U.S. missionary who spent the last 23 years of her life in Brazil helping protect the rain forest and the people who lived there was remembered Friday, six months after her assassination in the Brazilian town of Anapu.

Before her murder on Feb. 12, 2005, Dorothy Stang defended the Amazon rain forest and the poor settlers in the jungle area of Anapu, about 1,300 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro. According to reports, the 73-year-old missionary who hailed from Dayton, Ohio, was shot near Anapu in a dispute over a patch of forest that a local rancher wanted to cut down.

Since then, five men have been detained and accused of Stang’s murder, though two are appealing a judge’s decision to try them before a jury.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Lucas do Carmo de Jesus announced that the other three would be tried in the eastern Amazon town of Pacaja, about 1,250 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro. They have been charged with homicide and face between 12 and 30 years in prison if convicted.

Court officials say the three accused men will go to trial in October, AP reported.

At a memorial Mass held in Stang’s honor one month after her death, more than 600 people packed into a chapel at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, as another 200 people overflowed into adjoining rooms to watch the ceremony on televisions.

Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk recognized Stang as "a contemporary martyr."