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Man Given Life For Student Killing

April 29, 2000 GMT

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) _ The second of two men convicted of raping and murdering an 18-year-old college freshman was sentenced Friday to life in prison plus 62 years.

Jesse Avalos, 27, apologized to the family of victim Carly Martinez before being sentenced by the judge. He also apologized for destroying evidence.

``These are the actions of a coward and not a man. I wish I would have come forward right away,″ Avalos said.

Martinez, of El Paso, Texas, disappeared in January 1998 from Las Cruces, where she was returning for classes at New Mexico State University. Investigators found her nearly nude body in the desert six miles away on March 22, 1998, stabbed more than 30 times.

Avalos was convicted of first-degree felony murder, three counts of tampering with evidence, three counts of conspiring to tamper with evidence, and single counts of kidnapping and rape.

Co-defendant Jason Desnoyers, 24, was convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping and 10 other counts in November and was sentenced to life plus 34 years.

Avalos will be eligible for parole in 61 years, prosecutors said.

``We’re pleased that Jesse Avalos basically will spend the rest of his life in prison,″ said District Attorney Susana Martinez.

The maximum sentence would have been life in prison plus 100 years, said prosecutor Martinez, who is not related to the victim.