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Brianna Denison's Murderer Gets Four Life Sentences for Sexual Assault, Kidnapping

James Biela sits pensively while waiting for the jury to announce their verdict Thursday, May 27, 2010, in Reno, Nev. The jury found Biela guilty of all five counts tied to the murder of Brianna Denison and sexual assault of two other young women. AP Photo/Marilyn Newton, Pool

Brianna Denison's Murderer Gets Four Life Sentences for Sexual Assault, Kidnapping
James Biela (AP Photo/Marilyn Newton, Pool)

RENO, Nev. (CBS/AP) A Washoe County judge sentenced ex-Marine James Biela to four additional life terms Friday on charges stemming from sexual assaults on two young women, one of whom he kidnapped.

PICTURES: Brianna Denison

Biela, 29, is already facing Nevada's death row for the 2008 murder of 19-year-old college student Brianna Denison.

"Not only were these people terrorized, but the community was terrorized," said District Judge Robert Perry during the 30-minute hearing.

Biela refused to face one of his victims, who he raped at gunpoint in a University of Nevada, Reno parking lot in Oct. 2007. He lowered his head during her riveting testimony. "Mr. Biela, I wish you would look at me," she said. "Despite the fact that you committed the most unforgivable act, I forgive you for everything you put me through. I pray you find peace with God because he's the only one who can save you."

Perry was influenced by the victim's testimony and insisted on giving Biela the maximum sentence for raping Denison and the two other women. According to Deputy District Attorney Elliot Sattler, an appeal could possibly overturn Biela's death penalty conviction. The four life terms would ensure that Biela stayed behind bars for a minimum of 36 years before he would be eligible for parole, said Sattler.

Biela faces a minimum of 10 years for each of three sexual assault charges and another five years for the kidnapping charge. Another year could be added to his sentence because he used a firearm during one of his attacks.

Perry indicated that he would sign the formal death warrant and schedule Biela's execution date by Aug. 16, which will prompt an automatic appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

According to Sattler, the other victim, a Thailand native, declined to testify because she wanted to leave the case in her past. She was sexually assaulted and kidnapped in Dec. 2007 close to the UNR campus.

The series of crimes surrounded the UNR campus beginning in Oct. 2007 until Denison's tragic death in early 2008.

Denison was a sophomore at Santa Barbara City College in California. She was abducted while sleeping on a friend's couch in Jan. 2008. Police found her body with two pair of thong underwear in an empty lot a few weeks later, wearing nothing except socks.

Sattler spoke to the importance of giving Biela the maximum sentence on each of his charges in order to respect each victim.

Complete Coverage of Brianna Denison on Crimesider.


  • Naimah Jabali-Nash

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