Back in Ilave, peasants were barricading the Pan-American Highway. At the bridge over the river, they welded road signs between the steel supports, sealing off the highway and access to the town.
"We had Ilave shut down, as if with a lock and key," recalled Rufino Vidal Flores, the leader of the local peasants' union and another defendant.
As the end of April approached, thousands of peasants were spending there third week camped in the streets. Some residents alleged that Sandoval, the rancher, plied the peasants with alcohol and coca leaves to keep them in town.
(Reached at his apartment in Puno, where he remains under house arrest, Sandoval declined to comment.)
Upon her return to town, Ardito noted the presence of "outsiders" among the protesters -- Bolivians espousing Aymara nationalism, old Peruvian "Senderistas" (fighters from the Shining Path guerrilla movement) and men affiliated with the Humala brothers, Peruvian military officers who have staged unsuccessful uprisings.
Ilave had become a gathering place for disaffected rebels of all stripes.
Marina Robles feared for her husband. But he was being counseled to stay in office by a high-ranking security official, she said, declining to name that person. "He was telling us that Sandoval was going to be put in jail," she said.
But the anti-Roblistas had finally come up with a strategy to remove him. By law, if the mayor failed to attend three consecutive council meetings, the position could be declared vacant. The five members of the 10-person council opposed to Robles met separately in two "official" meetings. Before they could hold the third, however, Robles announced that he would return to Ilave and hold his own session at his sister's house with the five members still allied with him.
"Our plan had been ruined," said Flores, the peasant leader. "The people were even madder than before.... They decided to block off the streets to prevent the meeting from taking place."
At 6 a.m., Radio San Miguel began broadcasting news of the impending meeting. According to the indictment, station owner Henry Galo Medina "egged on the population so that they would go to the mayor's sister's domicile armed with sticks, whips and other objects so as to prevent the [council] session from taking place."
Medina spent eight months in jail on the charges but was recently released. He denies calling on the crowd to storm the home and grab the mayor.
Only 60 police officers were in Ilave that morning, according to the report by Degregori, the rights activist. All were at the police station, guarding members of a government reconciliation commission that had belatedly arrived in town.
The National Police commander in Ilave said later that he had warned Robles not to return.
Why, then, did he?
Marina Robles said her husband felt he had done nothing wrong. Days before his death, she said, she suggested that he quit for safety's sake, but he answered: "If I leave, everyone will think I'm a thief."
"I know that up to the very last moment my husband never thought they would kill him," she said.
Robles arrived at his sister's home for the council meeting before dawn. When his wife first called that morning, she said, everything was calm. "There's no police, but there's no people, either," she recalled her husband saying. But when she called later, he said, "There's a lot of people. They're throwing rocks."
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"I'm going to wait."
Seeing hundreds of people outside trying to break down the door, those inside resorted to dumping pots of boiling water out the windows, witnesses said.
On one video, masked men can be seen climbing the roof before breaking in. The mob eventually found the council members under beds in a neighboring home.
The council members were beaten by the mob and taken to other villages, where they were later released. The mayor was pulled out of a closet.
"So many people got inside," peasant leader Flores said, "that we can't say with certainty who had the luck to hit the mayor first."
"They took him around town to see his works projects," Flores said with sarcasm. One stop was the bridge Robles had promised to replace but didn't.
Back in Puno, Marina Robles frantically phoned authorities in Ilave and Lima. She said the police commander in Ilave told her he had not received authorization to intervene.
Ramirez, the indicted community elder, said the mayor already looked half-dead when the mob brought him to Ilave's main plaza. The crowd tossed him into a plastic barrel, then took him out again. They forced him to walk up the steps of City Hall and placed a microphone in his hands.
"He could barely stand up," Ramirez said. "The people were yelling, 'Let him speak! Let him speak!' He stood up, said a few words -- 'I'm sorry, forgive me' -- and then he fell." Ramirez heard the mayor's head strike the concrete at the bottom of the steps.