A 40-year-old man convicted of killing an elderly man and woman more than two decades ago was ordered Friday to serve two sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Gustavo Ramos-Martinez was 18 in May 1998 when he fatally stabbed and raped 86-year-old Helen Sabraw before bludgeoning 75-year-old Wallace Siegel to death with a dumbbell in separate apartments at an assisted-living community near Flamingo Road and Maryland Parkway, prosecutors said.
“The pain from the crime never goes away,” Sabraw’s granddaughter, Stacy Sabraw said after the sentencing. “The matter of the crime can rest now.”
At a bench trial this year, in which District Judge Douglas Herndon weighed the evidence rather than a jury, Ramos-Martinez was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and one count of sexual assault with use of a deadly weapon.
“Even if he spends the rest of his life in prison, we’ll never see justice,” Siegel’s daughter, Leslee Siegel, told the judge on Friday. “He tore our family apart.”
A bloody palm print on the corner of a Las Vegas Review-Journal page from May 15, 1998, found near Wallace Siegel’s body linked Ramos-Martinez to the slayings, prosecutors said. He was arrested in 2010 after he gave a DNA sample while serving time in federal prison on an illegal immigration charge.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors displayed gruesome crime scene images of the apartment where Mark Sabraw, who has since died, found his mother dead.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Pamela Weckerly said Helen Sabraw and Siegel were “the most innocent victims” and that there was “absolutely no reason” for their murders.
Helen Sabraw’s granddaughter, Katherine Brockhorst, sat through six days of testimony. She said her grandmother “taught me to be strong” and was her best friend.
“I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled,” she told the judge.
Ramos-Martinez lived less than a quarter-mile from where the killings occurred but denied to police that he had been to the property, prosecutors said.
He did not speak during Friday’s hearing, but defense attorney Abel Yanez said Ramos-Martinez, abused as a child and raised in abject poverty, was “unwavering in maintaining his innocence.”
About a year ago, prosecutors agreed to withdraw the possibility of the death penalty for Ramos-Martinez after his attorneys argued that he was not mentally capable of facing capital punishment.
In the nine years he has been in custody awaiting trial, Ramos-Martinez has lost sight in one eye and has diminishing vision in the other, his attorneys said.
In handing down the sentence, Herndon said he considered Ramos-Martinez’s age at the time when deciding whether to allow a chance at parole.
“But I think society also gains when people who commit horrible, brutal acts of violence more than once are taken out of society so that those acts can’t occur in the future,” the judge said.