A 73-year-old man, who eluded authorities for 16 years after he beat his former lover to death, was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.
But first, Raymundo Gutierrez Pereda was subjected to Orange County Superior Court Judge David Hoffer calling him "cruel," "callous" and a coward.
Other than that, he's surely a sweet guy …
Uh, check that.
Pereda responded to an ad 53-year-old divorcee Mary Ann O'Neill had placed for a roommate in her Placentia home in the early 1990s. O'Neill figured Pereda would be the perfect tenant because he was a handyman. They became fast friends and later lovers.
But the two later began arguing, and Pereda moved out in 1995. O'Neill would go on to start a sexual relationship with a co-worker at a photo company she managed. O'Neill drove the co-worker to work because he was not allowed to drive due to a DUI.
They spent the night of Nov. 15, 1995, together at the co-worker's home. O'Neill left around 3 a.m., but when she did not show up the next day to pick the co-worker up for work, he called police.
Cops found O'Neill's body stuffed in the trunk of her car parked in a strip-mall parking lot around 2 a.m. on Nov. 17, 1995. She had a gash on her head and multiple bruises on her body. Neighbors would tell police they had seen O'Neill's ex-husband walking around her home, but officers did not realize the ex- they were referring to was Pereda.
Police finally got a line on Pereda, who was staying in Anaheim, but when officers showed up he fled out the back door. This led to a police chase, and later the discovery of Pereda's red pickup truck at a Las Vegas motel.
Pereda was not with his truck.
It was in Vegas in 2006 that Pereda was pulled over for drunken driving. His fingerprints were taken, and that produced a hit in the national database for outstanding crime suspects.
Pereda was brought back to Orange County to face the music, if by music you mean Judge Hoffer berating the killer in court recently.
"The simple fact is the cruelty, callousness and cowardice found in this case shocks the conscience and demands a life sentence," Hoffer said at sentencing, as reported by City News Service's Paul Anderson.
Hoffer scoffed at Pereda's claim during testimony that he had merely shoved O'Neill, calling her killing the result of "face-to-face, hand-to-hand" combat between an "unarmed woman and an armed man," followed by cowardly stuffing her in the trunk of her car, driving her to a strip mall and leaving her there so "assuredly she would die."
Pereda also heard from O'Neill's daughter Karen DeVaughn, via her victim's statement to Hoffer:
"I was going to come up here and tell you what you have done to our lives, especially as we knew it, but I realized you won't care. Even 19 years later, you took the stand and told lie after lie, acting like you don't know me when we spent Christmas, Thanksgivings, birthdays together. You knew how close my mom and I were, you knew how important she was to me, how much time we spent together, so when you said you thought we wouldn't notice her missing, so to be more humane, you put her in a trunk and left her in a dark parking lot, I realized you were worse than a psychopath.''
Another daughter, Kelly Gaughran, said:
"This experience has fundamentally changed us. Where once we felt safe, we now know fear. Where once we could trust, we now know betrayal. And where once we were whole, we now know deep and pervasive loss. And all because of the defendant's incomprehensible and horrific actions. I think about my mom every single day. Every day I remember how kind, fun and how beautiful she was inside and out … and don't understand how the defendant could have done this to her."
Pereda's defense attorney accused Hoffer of having made faces at his client during the trial. The judge said while sentencing Pereda he could not recall having done that.