Man sentenced for kidnapping, killing 17-year-old girl
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man was sentenced to death Friday for kidnapping and killing a 17-year-old girl as she walked from school.
Jesse Perez Torres, 34, was sentenced for the July 2010 abduction and murder of Norma Lopez, the Riverside County district attorney’s office said.
“The killing of Norma Lopez and the dumping of her body like a piece of garbage can only be described as disgusting,” Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz said before sentencing Torres, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “The defendant displays an utter disregard for human life and is a threat to society.”
The teen was walking from summer school in Moreno Valley, east of Los Angeles, to a friend’s house when she was abducted, authorities said. Her body was found five days later in a dirt field a few miles away, the DA’s office said.
Torres, who lives in the neighborhood where the kidnapping occurred, was charged with the killing in 2011 after DNA evidence from the girl’s broken earring matched a sample taken from Torres after a domestic violence arrest, the Press-Enterprise said.
He was convicted in March of first-degree murder with special circumstances that the crime occurred during a kidnapping.
A letter from the teen’s mother was read at the sentencing hearing by Lopez’s sister, the DA’s office said.
“I took Norma to school that day not knowing it was the last time I will ever see her again,” the letter said. “That’s the day this nightmare started. Without Norma, my house was filled with pain and sadness.”