Garden Grove Prostitute Killer Learns His Punishment

A Los Angeles gangster, undocumented alien and pimp who beat and then strangled a 24-year-old prostitute to death in her Garden Grove hotel room in 2009 tilted his head to the right and then to the left but said nothing when Judge William Froeberg pronounced punishment this afternoon: life in a California prison without the possibility for parole.

Cesar Gomez, a 36-year-old member of the El Monte Flores criminal street gang, found Ashley Nicole Lilly's escort advertisement in the Weekly's Backpage.com, met her at a liquor store, returned to her Crowne Plaza Resort Hotel Anaheim/Garden Grove room near Disneyland, murdered her and stole her property.

Lilly, who'd worked for another pimp before branching off to create her own Pink Diamond Entertainment, charged $140 an hour for sexual services, according to court records.

A hotel bell-hop found Lilly's stripped, dead body in the ransacked hotel room when one of her worried girlfriend's called for a welfare check.

After Garden Grove Police Department detectives linked Mexico-native Gomez to the killing by the DNA he left on Lilly's tied-up body, veteran homicide prosecutor Cameron Talley won a jury trial guilty verdict last September.

During today's six-minute hearing, Gomez's defense lawyer, Scott Sanders, told Froeberg that his mum client "is very sorry about what happened and wishes that he could go back in time and change it."

Talley told Froeberg that the victim's mother lives in Missouri and, though she attended the trial, could not afford to fly to California for the hearing. But, he said, the mother wanted Froeberg to know that she loved her daughter, her second to be murdered.

Froeberg noted that murder in the commission of a robbery meant Gomez earned his dismal fate: he will never emerge back into society.

The sentence caused Gomez's sister (or girlfriend?), who was seated in the audience, to quietly weep. When two bailiffs took the shackled killer away he didn't even bother to look back at her. Within a few days, he'll be bused from the Orange County Jail to his new permanent home.

Sanders, Gomez's public defender, declined to speak to reporters after the hearing.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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