The sister and mother of Mirian Yohana Garcia Mansilla each went up to the podium in a Suffolk County courtroom and faced the judge.
As they took their turns speaking, each glanced over at the man standing in a white T-shirt and jeans surrounded by court officers, the man who killed their beloved “Yohana.”
They urged the court to make sure that man spends the rest of his life in prison.
“My sister will never come back,” said Zully Garcia Mansilla through a translator, her voice wavering with emotion. “This person has damaged all of our lives. Totally.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the family got as close to their wish as possible.
Guillermo Alvarado-Ajcuc, who was convicted on two counts of murder two months ago for killing Ms. Garcia Mansilla near the Riverhead DMV parking lot in 2012, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the maximum sentence allowed.
Early on May 6, Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc led an intoxicated Ms. Garcia Mansilla away from the bar toward a wooded area. There, prosecutors said, he attempted to rape her and strangled her with his belt when she resisted.
Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc spoke for the first time at the sentencing, asking for forgiveness from his victim’s sister and mother. But he also claimed that he was too drunk to realize what had happened when Ms. Garcia Mansilla was killed.
“It wasn’t my intention,” Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc said through a translator. “I hope some day they are able to forgive me.”
Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc’s defense attorney, Eileen Powers, said that she believed Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc’s statements backed up her position that Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc still doesn’t remember what happened.
But Suffolk County assistant district attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said that Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc showed a “shocking lack of remorse” throughout the trial, and called the murder particularly violent.
“She died in pain, in fear and she died horribly,” Mr. Kurtzrock said.
Judge John Toomey called the murder a “completely senseless act.”
“You had to take that belt off, by your hand,” Judge Toomey told the killer before sentencing. “Your actions that night were far-reaching.”
Ms. Garcia Mansilla was a Guatemalan immigrant who had worked cleaning ships at Larry’s Lighthouse Marina in Aquebogue. She was a hard-worker and aspiring DJ who also played on a North Fork soccer team, friends said in the wake of her death.
Mr. Kurtzrock said Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc — an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala — would be deported if he is ever released. The prosecutor said he hopes Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc spends the rest of his life behind bars.
“He’s certainly earned it,” Mr. Kurtzrock said.
After the sentencing, family members hugged the prosecutors who had helped them during the two years the case spent in court. Yohana’s mother, Marta Mansilla, said through a translator that she knows her daughter is “celebrating with God” and that justice was done. But the loss still weighs heavy on her.
“I feel very, very sad because I’m never going to see my daughter again,” she told reporters through tears. “I know she’s in peace and she’s in a better place.”
Ms. Garcia said she was glad her sister’s killer got the maximum sentence.
“I know my sister is not going to come back,” she said. “But at the same time, we feel at peace because justice has been done.”
Ms. Garcia said she saw tears in Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc’s eyes as she spoke in court.
“I feel sorry for him,” she said. “My heart was broken not because of him, but because of his family. I thought about his mother and his father. The suffering he caused [them].”
She said “in her heart” she is able to forgive the man who murdered her sister knowing that he will have to face God in the end.
“I know what we do, we pay for it,” she said. “He deserves to suffer a lot.”