CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A Mexican national living illegally in the United States was sentenced on Wednesday by an Ohio judge to life in prison for the rape and murder of a woman during a July crime spree.
Lake County Judge John O‘Donnell sentenced Juan Razo, 36, to the maximum life without parole plus 107 years for a July 27 rampage in Concord Township, Ohio, about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland, that began when he attempted to rape his 14-year-old niece in a public park.
Prosecutors said the teenager fought off Razo, but he then went on to rape and murder 60-year-old Margaret Kostelnik after breaking into her nearby home. After killing Kostelnik, he stole a gun, fled the home and shot and wounded a woman walking with her two young children.
He then shot at county sheriff’s deputies while they were trying to arrest him before later surrendering, police said.
To avoid a possible death sentence, Razo pleaded guilty in March to 16 criminal counts including aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape, attempted rape and kidnapping.
On Wednesday, O‘Donnell chastised Razo for not showing “any genuine remorse” during his sentencing hearing in a Lake County courthouse. Razo, who does not speak English and had a translator, sat with his eyes closed and head down during the hearing.
“You are evil personified and there’s nothing that’s ever going to change that,” O‘Donnell added.
O‘Donnell heard from family of Razo’s victims including a letter from the now 7-year-old daughter of the woman he shot and wounded. The daughter said she has nightmares because of Razo, who she called “a meanie.”
Lake County sheriff’s deputies first encountered Razo on July 7 and alerted federal authorities that he was in the country illegally, but no order to detain him for immigration purposes was issued and Razo was released, O‘Donnell said.
The judge also fined Razo $180,000 and ordered him to pay more than $17,000 in restitution for Kostelnik’s funeral expenses.
Razo’s sentencing comes at a time when Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has stirred up the debate around illegal immigration to the United States. Trump, who has said Mexico sends rapists and other criminals to the United States, has vowed to build a wall along the border with Mexico border and deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country if elected.
Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Ben Klayman and Frances Kerry